Capacity Development Assistance to Lao PDR

Evaluation Document | 30 June 2004

This evaluation assesses the effectiveness of different capacity development approaches to identify factors that influenced the outcome of assistance and recommend improvements for future operations.

This evaluation assessed the effectiveness of different capacity development (CD) approaches to identify factors that influenced the outcome of assistance and recommend improvements for future operations. The study included loan and technical assistance (TA) projects in the agriculture, power, road transport, urban development, and water supply and sanitation sectors approved between 1990 and mid-2003.

Summary of findings

While the different approaches used in each sector appeared relevant and effective in their context, the overall impact of CD assistance was scattered.

The high level of continuing CD assistance and the self-assessments of current strengths and weakness (undertaken as part of the evaluation) indicated that local organizations were not yet sufficiently developed to function without external assistance. Areas in which capacities were developed had not been well documented, which impeded efforts to draw systematic lessons from the experience.

Weak results can be explained as follows:

Human resource weaknesses, staffing and remuneration policies and practices, and financial constraints on the part of the Lao PDR seriously affect the way in which CD assistance is perceived and used (mostly as capacity substitution).

Weak diagnostics meant that no clear understanding existed of the problems that needed to be addressed, nor was consensus and ownership built around the suggested solutions. The design of CD assistance suffered as a consequence: objectives were not articulated well and anticipated outcomes not specified. As a result, implementation focused on delivering inputs and carrying out activities, often using project inputs to substitute for local resources rather than developing capacities.

CD is often equated with training or provision of consultants' services. The lack of a framework, which recognizes CD needs in the operating environment of organizations and for organizational development, affected the approach and results that CD assistance has had. Individual CD activities were scattered rather than systematically structured and sequenced, which affected the extent to which ADB assistance had an impact on capacities for sector and public resource management. Fundamental issues of public sector management, including human resource development and financial management, were not addressed.

  • Constraints
  • Process
  • Scope


The evaluation suggested ADB to take a systematic approach to reviewing its approach to CD assistance.

A working group on CD was created at the time the report was finalized and this has taken up a number of recommendations made in the evaluation. Specifically, the working group determined a definition and framework for CD assistance, and defined approaches and tools for putting these into practice.

For the Lao PDR, a number of recommendations were made to address systemic issues in the areas of financial and human resource management, review and adjust policies on the purpose of CD assistance (moving away from using it for capacity substitution), increase participation in diagnostic and design phases to increase ownership and commitment, and recognize the need for building service delivery capacities rather than focusing on project implementation alone.


  • Executive Summary
  • I. Background
  • II. The Capacity Development Process
  • III. Capacity Development Results
  • IV. Conclusions
  • Appendixes
  • Supplementary Appendixes