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Log frames Made Simple!
Contributed by Catherine Lowery, Senior Consultant and Course Trainer at IMA International   
Is that possible I hear you ask…

There will never be the perfect logical frame, and furthermore there are people operating in the field of M&E (Monitoring and Evaluation) that see logical frameworks having a number of intrinsic problems; such as they do not allow for process orientated projects.

This having been said, they remain a tool used by many donors and organisations. So I am going to share some of the main stumbling blocks I have come across when reviewing logical frameworks and some handy hints I use that help me developing them.

Hierarchy of objective statements

Often, I find ‘outputs’ end up in the ‘objective’ box column and ‘objectives’ in output’ box column. It is good to remember that objectives need to show a change in a ‘behaviour or a system’, and outputs are the results of any activity that has taken place. For example, the activity would by delivering the training on new conservation  farming techniques. The output was ‘X target population had acquired new skills in conservation farming’. The objective (outcome) would be what you hoped to achieve through running the training course, for example, farmers have higher crop yields as a result of acquiring new skills.

Lacking logical sequence

Most logical frameworks I have come across are not logical; there is no natural sequence or development between each layer of the objective statements (activities, output, objective and goal). One way to address this is to use the ‘if’ ‘then’ logic; at each layer, starting with activities and working up the goal. Ask yourself… if this activity takes place and my assumption/risks hold true then the result will be this output. If this output takes place, and my assumptions/risks hold true, then the result will be the related objective. Try it and see…

Too many indicators

When I started working in the field of M&E, I used to suffer from too much enthusiasm. Consequently, I ended up with four or five indicators for each of the objective statements (activities, output, objectives), thinking how interesting it would be to have all that information. Then I had to deal with the results of spending all my time collecting information that I had no time to analyse or evaluate. Now, I aim to have one indicator for each of the objective statements. If the objective statement is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and
Time-bound) then this is possible. If you need more than three or four indicators to be able to evidence the results then this is also a warning light on the quality of your objective statements.

IMA International are offering a Monitoring and Evaluation in Development course in Cape Town from 22 October – 2 November and in Bangkok from 19 – 30 November 2007. More information can be found on their website www.imainternational.com or contact post@imainternational.com. You can also view all their courses in our course directory here.

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