Current thinking on organisational capacity building has been shaped by two major shifts in development paradigms that have taken place since the mid-1990s, reflecting broader changes in international development debates. The first has been the move from a focus on the training of individuals to the development of institutions and organisations, which relates to the literature on systems thinking. The second has emphasized that the performance of an organisation is influenced both by elements that are internal and by external factors relating to the wider political, economic, social and cultural environment in which such organisations are embedded.
The paper is organised into three sections. the first briefly explores how capacity building organisations have been defined, outlines their diverse types and highlights some of their key functions. Section two draws out key themes or factors that could be taken into account when working to strengthen organisations at community level. The final section examines the implications of this analysis in terms of lessons learnt and principles derived from the review that might guide future interventions geared at strengthening organisations at the community level.