Parliamentary strengthening can be focused on MPs, parliament or other aspects of the political system. One way of looking at the activities undertaken is to divide them into direct support or indirect support. Indirect support is the support of specific policy issues, such as health and education, which subsequently strengthens the parliamentary process. Direct support is work where the objective is to strengthen parliament for democratisation and good governance in general.
There are few systematic evaluations of the results of parliamentary strengthening, though a number of programme evaluations identify whether programme goals have been met. It may not be possible to identify factors for success and failure for parliamentary strengthening in all contexts. Lessons learned from parliamentary strengthening programmes which include:
- A need for long-term interventions.
- Interventions should be based on local demand and encourage broad-based local ownership.
- Parliamentary strengthening should appear neutral.
- Issue-based approaches are particularly successful.
- Legislative assistance cannot be viewed in isolation from other areas of support outside of parliament.
Another suggestion in the literature is that donor assistance to parliaments should adhere to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, particularly in relation to principles of harmonisation, alignment and ownership.