Time to rethink “capacity” in the Global South

17 Nov 2021


Emmanuel Kivanyuma Waiswa, Director of Civil Collective

More often than not, when Global North organizations speak of capacity in the Global South, they are referring to a community’s capacity to implement Global North programmes, fill out long surveys and forms, institute and sustain “their” financial systems among others. It is almost unnecessary to question the value of such imposed systems beyond the duration of the grant or support. In turn, community-based organizations are being driven by external mandates and responding to external needs more than local ones – to which they belong and are affected by.

Authentic capacity does not have to be pegged against parameters, or measures that have no bearing to local realities. Local civil society actors are capable of leading development from the frontlines, if only the Global North can let go of the power and privilege that comes with money to impose “how” the work should be done. Capacity evolves with the opportunities present. We cannot assess people’s capacity, if the opportunities to put that capacity to use won’t exist. Hiring externally, imposing methods and supervising application, are some of the worst forms of human insecurity…


This is an excerpt of a blog written by Emmanuel Kivanyuma Waiswa, Director of Civil Collective in Uganda. To read the piece in its entirety, head to the #ShiftThePower Treehouse or watch the clip below for a preview of Emmanuel’s full blog! 


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