1 Build Capacity: Create a greater ability in ourselves, our partners and the communities in which we work.
Outputs: We assist the community in planning for projects and build skills in project management and oversight.
Outcomes: Communities who work with us and our partners are better able to take on additional projects in the future (with us or others).
Impacts: More development work gets done using community-based resources which increases empowerment and ownership.
We often hear in the Development world how we have to “build capacity” or that a partner needs more capacity to pull off an especially large project. But is capacity real? Is it something we can point at? Can we tell from one organization to another if they have “it.” How about a community? Can we tell by looking at them if they have capacity?
Not really. No. We can’t just tell if capacity is present. But we can define capacity and work to increase it. Because when you have it outcomes emerge at a greater rate.
Capacity is your (or your organization’s or community’s) “ability or power to do, experience, or understand something.” Some may call this ‘potential’ but that is only half right. Potential is less concrete, more amorphous, more insubstantial. But capacity has the connotation that you own it. It’s yours. This is the space that you have to succeed and it emerges from you, your thinking and the knowledge that you truly own.
So for Edge of Seven we build capacity by building up knowledge, skill, experience and thinking. This may involve increasing a person’s (or community’s, or organization’s) skill in fundraising, knowledge of micro-finance, or human capital to build more structures. There are many ways to “build capacity.” Ultimately though, capacity building results in a greater ability to do greater things.
Our efforts to do so in rural communities has a special meaning. Building capacity is the symbol of empowerment and effectiveness over the generations. The capacity question is truly about knowledge which yields action. Those two things, hand-in-hand, create a powerful long-acting responsibility to NOT ignore sustainability. True capacity (for an individual, organization or community) is as much about recognizing what to do as it is how to raise money, build a building, or manage a set of books.