The European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM), a Dutch development foundation located in Maastricht in the Netherlands, is involved in several activities focusing on what works and what doesn't in technical assistance and capacity development. These activities are carried out by the Centre’s “Development Cooperation and Capacity Programme (DCC).” Its biggest activity is a 4-year study called Capacity, Change and Performance which focuses on how capacity develops endogenously - from within a system. The work to date includes an extensive bibliographic review, 18 field cases and 6 theme papers. The study has explored subjects such as the nature of capacity in networks, what is different about monitoring and evaluation of capacity as opposed to M&E of other things and the potential of systems thinking for understanding how capacity develops. The final report will be available in late 2006.
ECDPM's DCC programme is also known for its work on technical assistance, with emphasis on how it can contribute to the development of capacity. It did a major study on pooling of technical assistance in 2001/2 when the mechanism was very new. This review defined 3 different approaches to pooling and looked at which level works best under what circumstances. More recently, the Centre did a short update with information on more recent pooling activities and the lessons coming out of them. ECDPM is now doing a review of Promising Approaches to Technical Assistance (TA). This study will include three or four case studies focused on innovations in TA and their potential for strengthening capacity. The Centre has also done an evaluation of small-scale technical assistance provided by the Commonwealth Secretariat. The Secretariat is seen as a trusted partner on sensitive political issues, its small inputs often have significant influence, and receiving countries express a high degree of ownership for the support received. Finally, ECDPM has assisted the Belgian Technical Cooperation in rethinking its role in providing technical assistance and what its niche might be.