Re‐imagining Capacity and Collective Change: Experiences from Senegal and Ghana

  • Blane Harvey
  • Jonathan Langdon
Volume 41 Number 3
Published: February 5, 2016
This article presents two studies which examine learning among community collectives in Ghana and Senegal, in their struggles to sustain their livelihoods and agency amid political, environmental, and socioeconomic pressures. In doing so, we consider how these experiences are reflected in the ways that human capacity is conceptualised and supported within international cooperation and development. We argue that dominant practices described as ‘capacity development’ overlook the complex and locally‐contingent character of development in favour of replicable and scaleable models; take an apolitical view of capacity as the acquisition of discrete skills; and privilege the development of individual capacity and self‐improvement over collective change. This limits the extent to which learning and capacity development can genuinely empower peoples to imagine and work toward social change. In contrast, we argue for a view of capacity which is embedded in learning through collective struggle; an analysis of and engagement with power relations; and attention to both short‐ and longer‐term change.
From Issue: Vol. 41 No. 3 (2010) | Reflecting Collectively on Capacities for Change