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Project Identification: Stakeholder AnalysisIntroduction
Project ideas can come from numerous sources: the recipient government, civil society, donors, communities or FAO. For FAO, the primary beneficiaries may be resource-poor farmers, fishers and foresters, small-scale agro-processors, rural communities, or, in some cases, the institutions that receive direct technical support. The motivation to formulate a project is, most typically, to address a specific problem or to take advantage of a new opportunity. As discussed earlier, FAO projects are expected to be government priorities, supported by a priority-setting process of country programming. They may be primarily identified through UN agency planning processes, such as UNDAF, or result from a national planning process.
To make the most of the resources available to FAO, field programming staff must be aware of the development priorities defined by policymakers and national leaders, the agricultural constraints and technical opportunities for research and development, the capabilities of the institutions with which FAO works, and FAO's own comparative advantage. FAO, in concert with stakeholders, is tasked with formulating projects that have the best likelihood of contributing to development objectives, while being realistic about what is possible in a given amount of time with the resources available.
This is a complex task that requires the consideration of many things including the following:
In any event, deciding what to do is the most important step in the project cycle, and requires an analysis of stakeholders, problems, objectives and strategies to clearly identify the project. A properly planned project addresses the real needs of beneficiaries, whose views may diverge and need to be brought into the discussion. A key question for those trying to identify projects is how can a project be identified in a participatory manner?
After a project idea has been raised, an early step in project development is stakeholder analysis. Stakeholders are individuals, groups or organizations who, directly or indirectly, stand to gain or lose from a given development activity or policy. Distinction is drawn between:
We undertake stakeholder analysis to:
Methods of stakeholder analysis:
Stakeholder analysis is a 4-step process
Step 1: Identify Stakeholders
Compile a list and assess:
Draw up a list identifying all stakeholders. Organise as primary, secondary, and key stakeholders:
Step 2: Assess Stakeholder Interests and Potential Project Impact on Interests
Some stakeholder interests are less obvious than others and may be difficult to define, especially if they are "hidden," multiple or in contradiction with the stated aims or objectives of the organization or individual.
For some institutions, these questions can be answered through a review of secondary information. For more informal groups and local people, assessment of their interests will probably require some form of consultation, either directly with these stakeholders or with people "on-the-ground" who are familiar with these groups.
With this background, consideration can be given to how the project might affect these interests - positively or negatively.
Step 3: Assess Stakeholder Influence and Importance
For each stakeholder group, assess its:
Influence refers to the power that stakeholders have over a project. It can be exercised by controlling the decision making process directly and by facilitating or hindering the project's implementation. This control may come from a stakeholder's status or power, or from informal connections with leaders.
Another variable, that of importance, relates to the degree to which achievement of project objectives depends on the active involvement of a given stakeholder group. Stakeholders who are important to the project are generally those whose needs the project seeks to meet as well as those whose interests converge with the objectives of the project. Some stakeholders may be very important to a project (for instance, rural women in a reproductive health project) but may have very limited influence over the project. These stakeholders may require special efforts to enable them to become active participants to ensure that their needs will indeed be met.
Step 4: Outline a Stakeholder Participation Strategy
Plan stakeholder involvement according to:
On the basis of the previous three steps in the stakeholder analysis process, some preliminary planning can be done on how the different stakeholder groups can best be involved in subsequent stages of the project. As a rule of thumb, the appropriate approaches for involving stakeholders of differing levels of influence and importance can be as follows:
Refer to Table 1 for a graphic depiction of these issues. It is extremely important to identify strategies for including important stakeholders who lack influence, those who for cultural or resources reasons may not easily "find a seat at the table".
Table 1. Types of Participation According to Influence and Importance
Types of Communication with Stakeholders in the Project Cycle
From an early assessment of the importance and influence of stakeholders, those involved in project design need to consider the roles of each at different steps in the project cycle.
We can think of varying levels of participation, since all stakeholders cannot and should not be deeply involved all of the time (refer to Table 1). We can think of four general types of communication in our relationships with stakeholders. These are:
In addition stakeholders vary according to the nature of the problem addressed (Table 2). You determine your "universe" of stakeholders also by considering the type of problem you are trying to solve and the level of intervention you envisage. For example, if you are concentrating on a policy issue, for instance, building the capacity of WTO negotiators to participate more meaningfully in global trade agreements, you would likely find most of your stakeholders in central government, universities, etc. The extent to which you build in consultative relationships with others will be highly influenced by your objectives, resources and time.
Table 2: Relationship between Nature of Problem and Stakeholders
The manner in which the project identification process goes forward will depend on the findings of the preliminary review of the situation and the identification of relevant stakeholders. For example, if the constraints exist principally at the macro level, the problem may best be tackled through stakeholders operating at the national level.
Stakeholders also work vertically as well as horizontally. Thus intermediate level stakeholders can assist in addressing constraints at the community level as well as provide linkages from the field to the policy environment.
Proceeding to analyse problems and potentials at the macro and intermediate level is often done in a workshop environment where key stakeholders analyse problems, set objectives and determining the right strategy to tackle the problems. Information may come from primary or secondary analysis of infrastructure, services and institutional capacity.
Problems involving micro- and intermediate-level constraints, where households and communities are at the centre of the analysis, require different assessments and means for involving stakeholders, such as situational analysis, livelihoods analysis, socio-economic and gender analysis, institutional capacity analysis and participatory rural appraisal. More information on these approaches and tools are available from the FAO Socio-economic and Gender Analysis (SEAGA) Programme, the Technical Cooperation Department's Formulation Toolkit and the FAO Participation Website.