No.60 A Fresh Look at Capacity Development from Insiders' Perspectives: A Case Study of an Urban Redevelopment Project in Medellín, Colombia

  • #Working Papers

In contrast to the current discussion on Capacity Development (CD), which is mostly made from the donors' aid-effectiveness point of view, this paper attempts to explore what foreign donors can learn about CD by tracing the endogenous and long-running CD process from insiders' perspectives. As a case study, an urban redevelopment project called MIB in Medellín City in Colombia is examined. After clarifying the initial context of urban poverty in Colombia, the paper traces the six phases of the MIB project: institutional preparation and awareness enhancement, conception of the inclusive-urbanism idea, planning of the MIB, construction/reconstruction of the residences, resettlement of residents, and scaling-up. Then the paper makes an in-depth analysis of the whole process, focusing on five key CD factors identified by Hosono et al. (2011): stakeholder ownership, mutual learning, specific drivers, scaling-up, and roles of external actors. From the analysis, the paper proposes four major lessons on CD research and practice in the future. First, we need to change our timeframe through which we look at the CD process. The MIB experience shows that the process can be far longer than what has been assumed by donors and researchers. Second, the current project-centered periodization of development assistance and the overwhelming focus on the project period should be reconsidered. In the MIB, the project implementation phase took only five years in a total process of 30 years. Third, the MIB case shows that documentation of previous projects and seminars, which occur in the pre-project phase under donors' auspices, can greatly help local specialists conceive of new ideas. Fourth, the post-project phase also merits greater attention in identifying constraints to sustainability and replicability of the project concerned and to explore what external actors can do to overcome the constraints. The paper concludes by pointing out the necessity of accumulating similar kinds of case studies on the CD process made from insiders' perspectives.

Keywords: Capacity Development, urban redevelopment, social urbanism, Medellín, Colombia

Mine Sato
Date of issuance
March 2013
Related areas
  • #Latin America
  • #Urban / Regional Development
  • #Poverty Reduction
Research area
Development Cooperation Strategies
Research project