Indeed it is about the total ‘package’ of components that influence life in different environments and worlds and applies for example tothe vegetable farmer who needs quality seeds, water in good quantity and quality at the right time, good soil, knowledge, good weather, demand and market facilities, transport, good consumer price, packaging, information, funds and entrepreneurship (risk taking) and maybe even CSR among others.
The same principle of this total ‘package of components applies also to the office worker in a capacity development (sub)project where he or she requires for example adequate policy, proper office environment, supportive and competent team, good leadership and decision making, focus and strategy, reflection on effectiveness, logistical support (transport, communication, etc.), archives, (innovative) knowledge and understanding, pay, recognition and acceptance by clients, etc.
We actually developed interlocking LogFrames describing in the first matrix ‘WHAT should happen’ to enable the end-users to perform better and then in a separate matrix for each involved organization the ‘HOW should it happen matrix’ focusing on internal capacity building components.
As donor policies focus primarily on social development and ‘poverty alleviation’ we all bother to determine WHAT should happen, but rush through in the planning or even forget to elaborate in detail HOW it should happen in the respective organisations. This internal analysis of the organizational performance requires a different analytical focus and stakeholders.
In the project design phase all these components at the WHAT and HOW levels are supposed to be evaluated and it should be determined in each matrix which component will have to be addressed by the project (IN) and which can be assumed to be available without project attention (OUT).
Both matrixes deal with people having access to relevant ‘services’ and their desired changes in behaviour, the application or ‘purpose’ level in all the LogFrames.
Discussions focus on the tools, their presentations and the mechanics, however I wonder why apparently it seems so difficult to apply the tools in participatory analytical processes.
The proper analysis will tell us which problems crop up and which needs and can be addressed. And who can better inform us about what these problems are then those affected?
As recalled in a recent tender by the AfDB the first of the three key area of concern was that “the Bank is not applying any specific methodology for designing Results Logical Frameworks based on participatory approaches during project preparation and appraisal” ….
In theory it is not difficult. We developed a very simple analytical tool to identify and weigh the stakeholders differentiated by potential ‘end-users’ and ‘service deliverers’ in relation to the main objective the project might contribute to (‘entity’). The analysis shows who may have relevant information and who needs to be invited in a consultation workshop.
The question is why these workshops are rarely organized? Why are such workshops avoided? Many ToRs explicit the desired solutions already which obviously are not based on a proper analysis. And that is thus what they get back in the offers, as challenging the ToR may not be very wise…
Is it that project designers, consultants and donors are afraid for having their preconceived ideas challenged? Are people in general hesitant to go into such a debate? We all like to be ‘right’, isn’t it? So why should we invite ‘end-users’ who always tend to complain? Actually their complaining might be giving very useful insights about the poor quality of services delivered … In South Africa we, as facilitator had to fight to have the NGO that was collecting complains about the police participate in the workshop with SAPS…. At the end they were among the most constructive participants in the workshop!
I believe that particularly in developing projects where perceptions and backgrounds can be widely different, well-guided workshops with the right participants must be made obligatory. Actually this applies of course as well to European projects or any project where (different) suppliers try to offer services to end-users.
As most proposals are vague on their preparation process and give often the impression of being ‘toilet proposals’ prepared by individuals, donors may include in their formats of proposals a chapter describing HOW the proposal got prepared. I remember well only Sida had such a history sheet attached to the proposals describing the process that was followed and giving references to reports of workshops (involved people), feasibility studies and evaluations. Even the names of desk officers responsible for the process were disclosed. This is what I would call accountability.
Of course we as facilitators and also as trainers of moderators who like to apply their new competence, are very much concerned. We see the benefits of people sharing their different views and getting to a common understanding and agreement in such a short time. Something that is pretty hard to acknowledge by those involved, as it is indeed too embarrassing.
Recently I got involved in a project team that had discussed their strategy for 7 months (!) and had drifted apart in fighting. The workshop of two days brought understanding and preparedness to give in and harmonize focus and get finally started!
Agentschap NL, the NL Agency is a department of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation is convinced of the need for better planning and has since 2004 introduced the LFA tool organization-wide and has created a team of 27 moderators who assist in the facilitation of some 200 workshops with stakeholders per year to design and assess project proposals….
Please may I ask you for more suggestions to help us, project designers, consultants and desk officers at the funding agencies to better understand and act for enhanced participatory processes in design, formulation, start-ups, monitoring and evaluation of interventions.
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