Re-thinking project design through the Logical Framework Approach

by Anjum Dhamija

The Logical Framework Approach (LFA) is a tool rooted in International Development and is often used to design monitoring and evaluation for projects. The tool, however, when used throughout the project lifecycle, can be of immense value in design and planning as well. LFA creates the nudge in the design phase to go back to the WHY? of the project and to understand why we are doing what we are doing? It detaches the participants from the solution(s) already on the table and delves deeper into the context and needs. While exploring elements such as causes and effects of problem, stakeholders impacted by the problem vs. stakeholders who are able to influence the changes, one not only understands the problem better but often realise what really needs to be solved.

This backdrop of problem analysis enables the shift from a solution mindset to an impact mindset. Ultimately, the goal of any intervention is not the intervention or solution itself but the change that it is going to bring in the current state and the benefits that the stakeholders will reap from the intervention. The idea is not to change the solution but understand what else needs to happen to create the intended impact.

This process of re-engineering involves unboxing all sides before one starts to rebuild with just the needed components. The core of this rebuilding is the vision or the impact that one wants to create for the people. The intervention, in many cases, still remains the same, a building still remains a building, but the design and the implementation process now refocuses on users more than the infrastructure. The intervention, instead of being just physical infrastructure, is a user asset aligned to user needs and their usage patterns and is now complemented with softer interventions that encourage user adaptation.

Taking the example of health, the need for better health indicators is still met by building a healthcare center, but the facilities are aligned with the disease burden of the community and is complemented by awareness and outreach programs. This is the argument of efficiency in using the logical framework. We are not designing new activities, but these activities which often happen in silos are now brought together as a holistic intervention in local urban governance. It necessitates the local governance to explicitly acknowledge that the path to impact has to go via behavioral changes among the beneficiaries as well as the providers.

Going back to the unboxing process, that remains iterative through the planning and implementation phase. It is the elephant in the room because no one wants to remain on the drawing board forever. However, the breaking down of the design into sequential and “logical” components makes it simpler to incorporate the feedback from pilot projects, address the emerging risks with mitigation strategies and account for new knowledge by working around only the individual components and not the whole design. It is one of the many conditions to innovation that we are facilitating in the urban ecosystem through CITIIS. If you have read so far, we would like to hear from you on what are the other conditions that you have observed are triggering innovation.

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