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Capacity building activities are those activities designed to improve the ability of citizens and their organizations to solve immediate specific problems and also improve their ability to solve future community problems. The expertise needed to conduct capacity building activities may reside with local citizens or in outside consultants/experts. However, successful capacity building always results in an improvement in the skills of local individuals and organizations that is sustained over an extended period of time. Using the well-worn biblical metaphor, when you engage in capacity building, you are not only getting a fish, "you are learning how to fish."
Capacity building is process-oriented as well as product-oriented. This is in contrast to technical assistance activities, which are product-oriented. The outcomes of capacity building often include improved organizational structures, increased and improved citizen participation, greater community/organizational self-reliance, improved leadership abilities, and in general stronger community-based organizations at the local level which are more successful in addressing local concerns. The aim of capacity building is to enable individuals and organizations to continue to learn and grow. When successful capacity building is accomplished, the power of active and engaged citizens to bring about positive social transformation is improved.