Local Capacity Strengthening Policy

The Local Capacity Strengthening Policy guides USAID decisions about why and how to invest in the capacity of local partners to better achieve inclusive and locally led development.

USAID recognizes the central importance of partnerships that result in strengthened local communities—a longstanding practice across every sector, country, and context in which the Agency works.

Through the Local Capacity Strengthening (LCS) Policy, USAID is committing to a unified, cohesive, and systemic approach in which USAID collaborates with local partners to:

  • Define their own vision for success; 
  • Strengthen their ability to be effective and relevant actors within their local communities and contexts;  
  • Elevate local ownership in sustaining development results.

An Agency-wide Vision for Capacity Strengthening


The LCS Policy builds on decades of USAID experience in capacity strengthening. This policy is an opportunity for the Agency to reexamine its capacity strengthening practices in light of the principles of locally led development, as well as systems thinking and practice, to be a more effective and equitable partner. This policy was developed over three years through a highly participatory process where feedback was intentionally solicited, analyzed, and incorporated, as summarized in this comment report

LCS Insights: Supplemental Documents

Guide for Distinguishing Tools

Local Capacity Strengthening Policy Overview

Aperçu La Politique de Renforcement des Capacités Locales

Descripción General La Política de Fortalecimiento de Capacidades Locales

سياسة تعزيز القدرات المحلية


Annotated Bibliography

LCS in Action: Case Studies

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Local Capacity Strengthening?

Local capacity strengthening is the process of partnering with local actors - individuals, organizations, and networks - to jointly improve the performance of a local system to produce locally valued and sustainable development outcomes.

Why is there a Local Capacity Strengthening Policy?

Local Capacity Strengthening has long been a core component of USAID’s approach, however, until now there has been no unifying and authoritative policy. This policy is an opportunity for the Agency to reexamine its capacity strengthening practices to be a more effective and equitable partner.

What is different about the Local Capacity Strengthening Policy?

At its core, the LCS Policy is a mindset and culture shift towards embracing capacity strengthening that supports local actors' ability to deliver and sustain development results – rather than focusing on local actors’ capacity to qualify for and manage awards.

Related Work

inclusive development