Capacity Building

Christian Health Associations Share their Experience with CCIH’s OCA Tool

December 13, 2022

by Guest Contributor

By Brittany Hnida, CCIH Intern

In 2021, CCIH played a key role in strengthening faith-based organizations as part of two USAID-funded programs, working with several partners to complete the Organizational Capacity Assessment (OCA).

The full OCA toolkit was developed by CCIH for the specific needs of these partners (working under the SCOPE project and the Community Partnerships for Respectful Care Program). The toolkit covers ten organizational domains:

  • organizational leadership and governance
  • organizational leadership and management
  • operational and administrative policies and procedures
  • human resources
  • finance
  • fundraising
  • communications
  • advocacy
  • network effectiveness
  • program management

Now, over a year later, several partners including the Africa Christian Health Associations Platform (ACHAP) and the Christian Health Association of Sierra Leone (CHASL) have also completed the OCA. Here, we will share some different viewpoints from individuals and organizations that have used the OCA tools.

ACHAP, with support from IMA World Health, supported seven Christian Health Associations (CHA) in various aspects of capacity strengthening. Each CHA completed the OCA as well as CCIH’s draft Christian Organizational Identity Assessment. Each organization also identified priority areas for growth (identified in the table below). These CHAs are now implementing the plans they developed as a result of this assessment.

Priority Areas for Organizations Completing the Assessment

Name of CHACapacity Strengthening plan (Priority Areas identified by each CHA)
Christian Health Association of NigeriaDeveloping an Organizational Strategy
Christian Health Association of MalawiA critical review of strategic direction
Christian Health Association of Sierra Leone Organizational Policy development and review
Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services (CBCHS)Reviving the CHA in Cameroon
DR Congo Caritas Forming a CHA in DR Congo
Réseau Confessionnel Sanitaire Chrétien-Guinée (Christian Confessional Health Network of Guinea)Resource mobilization and sustainability
Improved Child Health Project - Côte D'Ivoire Broad capacity strengthening of the organization

CHAs Weigh in On the OCA Tool

“The CCIH capacity assessment tool captures very well the letter and spirit of empowering the local partners in determining and directing their own capacity strengthening needs and solutions.” -Martin Oluoch, ACHAP Technical Lead, Capacity Strengthening

ACHAP received significant feedback from CHAs regarding the OCA tool. Compared to other OCA tools used by these CHAs in the past, there was a consensus that CCIH’s tool was convenient and simple, as well as versatile, when assessing numerous organizational functions.

“The CCIH capacity assessment tool captures very well the letter and spirit of empowering the local partners in determining and directing their own capacity strengthening needs and solutions,” said Martin Oluoch, ACHAP Technical Lead of Capacity Strengthening. “The tool is self-contained with clear guides, instructions and templates, making it very suitable for local partner self-assessment and capacity strengthening planning.”

Musa Abdalla, ACHAP’s Capacity Strengthening Officer said, “The CCIH tool is very comprehensive and easy to use for partners at all levels.” Mr. Abdalla explained that clear descriptions associated with each topic and capacity level helped maintain objectivity in the scoring, giving the team more confidence in the results and how to use them to inform the action plan.

Over the past year, CHASL has gone through two organizational capacity assessment processes, highlighting institutional capacity strengthening as a priority for CHASL. Under USAID’s MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership, CHASL completed the Integrated Technical and Organizational Capacity Assessment (ITOCA) with the support of PACT. (The CHASL team is seen in the top photo going through the ITOCA assessment tool with the consultant from PACT.) The ITOCA is a separate tool from CCIH’s OCA tool and is focused on addressing key governance policy gaps such as updating a strategic plan and resource mobilization strategy.

With the support of ACHAP through a health system strengthening project, CHASL also completed CCIH’s OCA. Based on the results of both assessments, CHASL created a combined action plan and is working on improving financial management and reporting, program monitoring, evaluation and learning, and improving data collection practices.

“Going through the tool has greatly helped us as an organization to refocus, recalibrate and move forward. We are reaping the dividend.” -Florence Bull, CHASL Health Coordinator

CHASL consulted with CCIH on their combined action plan after completing the OCA process. “The assessment involved all [CHASL] staff from the top management to the junior or support staff giving candid scores on thematic areas,” said Florence Bull, CHASL Health Coordinator. She added that “the involvement of all staff in this process is very important, creating opportunities to see whether staff understood the mission of the institution.”

Surprising Revelations Thanks to the OCA

Ms. Bull shared an example of how revealing and informative the OCA can be beyond expectations. “A good example was during the practical session of the assessment, staff were asked to step into different rings if they thought that the statement reflects the true or not true picture of the institution. As the team lead, I usually stayed back to ensure that they stepped in the ring of their preference before I did. I got to know that staff have completely different views on basic fundamental principles which leaders take for granted. The practical session with the team was very revealing and highlighted some of the gaps in communication within the team which needs to be addressed for the good of the organization.”

Impact and Advice

Ms. Bull reports that CHASL has made some achievements which they credit to completing the OCA. “I would say that we are now more focused organizationally. We have had several institutions wanting to partner with us in recent times and thanks to the OCA, we have even been able to win more grants and increase our portfolio.”

CHASL recommends the OCA tool to all leaders and institutions and Ms. Bull calls it the ‘Go To’ tool for assessing organization capacity. “Institutions should regularly conduct this assessment and implement the actions irrespective of their life stage,” she said. “Going through the tool has greatly helped us as an organization to refocus, recalibrate and move forward. We are reaping the dividend.”

CCIH OCA Tool and Related Resources

Overview of OCA Tool: See more background and explanation about the tools.

Comprehensive OCA Tool: You can download a copy of the Comprehensive Organization Capacity Assessment (C-OCA) tool, review the various sections and fill them in with your answers for your own organization.

Preliminary OCA: The Preliminary Organization Capacity Assessment (P-OCA) Tool is intended to be used in subrecipient screening

OCA Action Plan Template: CCIH developed a template for an OCA Action Plan to help organizations plan improvements following a capacity assessment or needs assessment.

Comprehensive OCA Tool (Translated to French)

About the Author: Brittany Hnida is a student at Baylor University pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Health. After graduation, she hopes to continue working in global and community health with a focus on the mental and physical well-being of women in low- and middle-income countries.

Stock photos from ar130405/Pixabay and Gerd Altmann/Pixabay


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