Introduction logical framework

What is it?

For a pdf file with all info and examples click here

The Logical Framework is a widely used tool to describe major elements of a project; it gives answers to questions about the why, what and how of a project and also about the who, where and when. The description is presented in the form of a 4x4-matrix.

The longer term overall objectives, the project purpose, the mid-term results, and the activities of a project are systematically presented in the first column of the matrix (in their vertical logic). The second and third column of the matrix present the corresponding indicators and their sources of information. The fourth column presents important assumptions that are beyond the direct control of the project but that need to be fullfilled for succesful implementation. Establishing a logical framework is only possible after thorough analysis of problems, objectives and strategies (see Problem Tree Analysis tool).

Sustainability factors

In the formulation of projects and programmes sustainability aspects need to be kept in mind right from the start. Factors that ensure sustainability, formulated by the European Commission, are: - Ownership by beneficiaries - does the target group support the project?- Policy support - is there an appropriate sector policy by the government?- Appropriate technology - is the chosen technology affordable and is it possible to use it under the local conditions?- Environmental protection - are there any harmful environmental effects to be expected as a result of the implementation of the project?- Socio-cultural issues - will the project promote equitable distribution of access and benefits?- Gender equality - have sufficient measures been taken to ensure that the project will meet the needs and interest of both women and men?- Institutional and management capacity - is there sufficient capacity and resources with the implementing agency to continue service delivery in the longer term?- Economic and financial viability - do the benefits of the project justify the costs involved?

Description of the logical framework

1 The intervention logic

The first column renders the intervention logic, which is the basic strategy underlying the intervention. It contains the positive states to be realised by the intervention as well as the overall objective to which the intervention is to contribute.

The intervention logic runs from the means to the overall objective: through the availability of the means, activities can be carried out; by the execution of the activities, results are achieved; the results will lead to the project purpose; and through the project purpose, the intervention contributes to the overall objective.

Overall objective: a high level objective to which the intervention will contribute (e.g. overall sub-sector objectives). Other interventions and activities will also contribute to the realisation of this objective. It is the wider positive effect to which the achievement of the project purpose will contribute.

Project purpose: the objective to be reached by the intervention. There should be a fair chance that this objective will be realised by the project intervention. Sustainable benefits for the beneficiaries (taking into account gender, age, race, and ethnicity) are always the underlying purpose of the project. These should be tangible benefits expressing how the beneficiaries use the project results.

Results: products or services resulting from the activities. The results together will lead to the realisation of the project purpose. The results refer to the outputs that the project organisation will deliver to the beneficiaries (taking into account gender, age, race, and ethnicity) and include aspects of the quality of those outputs that are determinant for their use by the intended beneficiaries.

Activities: the activities that have to be executed by the project organisation in order to reach the results. The set of activities that is needed to produce the specific result.

The physical and non-physical means and costs (inputs) necessary to carry out the activities.

Different organisations use different terminology for the same concepts. An overview:

MDF terminology

Other terms used

Overall objective

Goal

Development objective

Long-term objective

Project purpose

Short-term objective

Specific objective

Results

Outputs

Immediate objectives

Intermediate results

Activities

Actions

Assumptions

Risks

Development hypothesis

Objectively verifiable indicators

Targets, performance indicators, variables

Sources of verification

Means of verification

Means of assessment

Sources of information

2 Objectively verifiable indicators (OVIs)

The second column of the logical framework renders the objectively verifiable indicators. The indicators present an operational description of the overall objective, project purpose and results, in terms of the variable (what will change?) and target value (how much?), target groups/beneficiaries, place and time. The indicators are in fact a precise definition of the intervention logic. Since the activities are defined as concrete actions, no indicators are formulated; the necessary means are in stead defined here. See further the 'Indicators' tool.

3 Means and costs

Means are physical and non-physical resources (inputs) that are necessary to execute the planned activities and to manage the project. A distinction can be made between human, physical and financial resources.

Costs are the financial translation of all identified means. The presentation of costs is preferably made according to a standardised budget format. The contribution of the donor, the government of the beneficiary country and possible other donors are specified in one ore more currencies (in accordance with the requirements).

4 Assumptions and preconditions

The fourth column renders the assumptions. Assumptions refer to external factors that may influence the intervention but that are beyond the direct control of the project organisation(s), but that are very important for the realisation of the results, the project purpose and the overall objective.

In the logical framework, relationships between the assumptions and the intervention logic are presented as follows:

This scheme reads as follows:

if the preconditions are complied with, then the activities can be started;

if the activities are realised, and if the assumptions at the activity level have come true, then the results will be realised;

if the results are realised, and if the assumptions at the result level have come true, then the project purpose will be realised;

if the project purpose is realised, and if the assumptions at the project purpose level have come true, then the overall objective will have significantly been contributed to.

See further the 'Assumptions' tool (for how to deal with assumptions), and tools for Institutional analysis, such as the 'Environmental scan' and the 'Institutiogramme' (to identify assumptions).

Clarification of important aspects of the intervention logic

What is the importance of the overall objective?

The overall objective describes the perspective of this intervention and other ones contributing to it. At this level, the influence of those in charge of the project is limited.

What is the importance of the project purpose?

The project purpose is the focal reference - in terms of sustainable benefits for target groups - which facilitates the management of the intervention and the monitoring/ evaluation of its success or failure.

When is the project ended?

When the project purpose is achieved, i.e.

- the 'product' is realised and 'sold' to the benefit of the target group,

- and it is estimated that the product will continue to exist.

Why is only one project purpose established?

Only one project purpose is established in order to prevent the intervention from becoming too complex and extremely difficult to manage. Instead of one intervention featuring two different purposes, it is preferable to plan separate (parallel and inter-related) interventions.

How are the results determined?

The results are either deduced from the diagram of objectives or from specific studies.

How are the activities determined?

Activities are determined by

- deducing them from the diagram of objectives;

- specific studies;

- consultation with the parties involved.

Why need activities to be determined?

Activities need to be determined to a sufficient level of detail in order to be able to:

- draw up a tentative working schedule and to calculate the likely duration of the intervention;

- deduce the necessary human and physical resources, incl. who’s going to be responsible for which activities;

- establish the budget.