Appendix 1.4 Pointers to project design
In the text below reference is made to projects only for the sake of brevity. However, the pointers are valid for both programmes and projects, and for many other types of operations, such as subprojects, subprogrammes, action programmes, umbrella projects, and major programmes.
The programming cycle
Projects have four main phases (chart A1.3), which are interrelated:
Effective project design facilitates implementation and monitoring and enables high-level evaluation, which in turn should lead to improved project design and implementation. As a result, the cycle becomes an upward spiral.
The logical framework
The logical framework was developed in the 1970s and has been used widely in development work since then. It is a tool to set out the main project components in a systematic way and to show the relation between components.
Writing up a project within the logical framework helps to structure and formulate ideas and results in a project document with a clear standardized format. After the start of a project, the project document becomes the tool for managing each phase in the programming cycle and forms the basis for developing other tools such as workplans and progress reports.
Well-written project documents or workplans are useful tools, but cannot alone guarantee successful results. This also depends on the sincerity and the know-how of the people using them. A logical framework is not a static blueprint. Every logical framework is the fruit of an analysis made at a certain moment in the programming cycle, and reflects the knowledge and concerns of the people and organizations involved. If the situation changes, the tools have to be adapted accordingly.
As already noted, child labour is a many-sided problem. Therefore sound problem or situation analysis is important not only at the level of developing polices and programmes but also at the level of project design. Since projects often work with one target group, in a particular sector or location, it is important that those who design them have a solid understanding of the specific needs and problems associated with that target group, sector or location. Problem analysis identifies the needs and characteristics of a target group and stimulates new forms of response. It typically incorporates three elements: the definition and description of a situation or a problem; an analysis of existing responses to the problem; and an assessment of the needs not met.
Undertaking problem analysis can best be done through a partnership with all concerned - government, voluntary organizations, municipal authorities, academic institutions, community leaders, the children and their families. Besides contacting key informants it is also useful to review existing documentation such as censuses, surveys, policy statements, and so on. Key information includes education statistics, particularly the figures on school enrolment and drop-out rates, as most children not at school can be presumed to be actual or potential workers.
The project strategy must make clear what the project seeks to do, for whom, with whom and how. This section is the most important part of a project document as it outlines responses to the problems. It sets out the target groups, the project partners, the project approach and the types of interventions. It is important to define the target group precisely if the activities of the project are to be properly focused. Wherever practical, children themselves, their parents, employers and key informants in the community should be consulted on the project design. Do they want the project ? Does it meet their needs? By involving them at the preparatory stage serious design pitfalls are avoided and chances of success are increased by developing a sense of project ownership.
A very important aspect of the project strategy is choosing partners through which the project will work. Usually one organization becomes the implementing agency with the main responsibility for designing and carrying out a project. But projects should not be conceived, nor do they operate in, a vacuum. In the case of child labour projects the specialized expertise of different agencies at the governmental and non-governmental level is required to take concerted action on a specific child labour problem.
The types of intervention will vary depending on whether the project aims to prevent child labour, and/or withdraw children from work, and provide them and their families with viable alternatives, and/or improve working conditions as a first step towards the elimination of child labour. Projects that work directly with children and their families are called "direct support action projects". Those that aim at strengthening the capacity of organizations to deliver services, coordinate activities or improve enforcement are called "institutional development projects". In many cases, projects combine both approaches.
As child labour is often due to ignorance about the harmful effects of premature work on children, all action programmes should always contain an awareness-raising component, for advocacy purposes. In addition, all direct action programmes should contain an awareness-raising and advocacy component to ensure that employers, managers and adult workers refrain from resorting to child labour, otherwise children withdrawn from work will be replaced immediately with other children. In the case of self-employed children, efforts should be made to reach their clients with messages on child labour. Awareness-raising and advocacy can be combined or followed up with a monitoring component to ensure that geographical areas or specific occupations stay child labour free.
It is essential to address sustainability concerns from the start of the action programme to increase the chance that its benefits will be long-lasting, and that its results and output will continue to be used and become the responsibility of the target groups and partner organizations after termination of the project.
From objectives to output
After the description of the strategy, target groups and partners, projects always contain the following four elements:
These elements are interrelated, and if the linkages between them are clear enough this will enable the project designers to predict that:
An objective is a simple expression of a desired end. If the problem is clearly stated, the solution to it will be the objective. Outputs are the products which result from the project activities. The key words are "to produce". Examples might be material, curricula, reports, or people trained. Activities then are the actions undertaken to produce the desired outputs, i.e. what will be done, not the results themselves. The key words are "to do". Outputs are produced by a certain date, while activities describe the project process. And finally inputs are the funds, equipment, expertise, human resources, and so on, necessary for carrying out the activities. The project designer must decide realistically what are the minimum resources needed to carry out the project and who will provide them.
Indicators are precise, measurable factors, which help both to explain the stated objectives and allow for project evaluation because they provide evidence as to whether output has led to the achievements of the objectives.
Some examples of indicators include: the adoption of key legislation; major investments in the provision of education and socio-economic development programmes for disadvantaged groups prone to resorting to child labour; a decrease in the number of children involved in certain economic sectors (this indicator is relatively easy to use in programmes which aim to withdraw a number of children from work, but more difficult in the case of measures geared towards prevention); an increase in the number of child/forced/hazardous labour cases reported, and so on.
Monitoring and evaluation
Monitoring and evaluation are the final elements of the programming cycle. It is important to determine at the very beginning how the project will provide progress reports, and how it will be evaluated. Monitoring is concerned largely with ensuring that input leads to output. It is essential for the project management to make regular progress reports on project implementation - that input is being made available as planned, that activities are taking place in line with the workplan and that output is produced on schedule. Project management must always be in a position to adapt the project to the needs and conditions which could not have been foreseen at the project design stage. Evaluation is the act of discovering whether objectives are being achieved or likely to be achieved. It must be distinguished both from project appraisal, which is an assessment prior to deciding whether to undertake a project, and monitoring, which is the continuous overview of the implementation of a project, involving the regular reporting of basic information. Evaluation is thus a key tool for improving the management of ongoing projects, improving the preparation of new projects, and providing inputs into programme evaluation.
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