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UNIT 8: The project proposal


This is the last stage of the planning process and of this manual. It is time to write up your plan as a project proposal, which is a formal document that you will submit to partner agencies. The partner agencies generally need to approve it internally. Once it is reviewed and approved, it will become the project document and it will serve as the basis for implementing the landing site development strategy.


Although each agency has its own guidelines for project proposals, this unit gives you an indication of the type of information required. If you have different projects, you may need to develop a proposal for each one separately. Check with the funding agency and implementing partners. In this unit you will find:

Creating the logical framework

A logical framework or logframe is prepared in the form of a table. It outlines the bare essentials of the project in a fixed format.

During implementation the logframe allows you to monitor progress and make adjustments where necessary. Many implementing and funding agencies require a project proposal to contain a logframe. The logframe contains:

Who should participate

It is preferable to do this exercise together with the funding agencies and implementing partners. As the inputs into the logframe were already prepared in the previous units, the working group need not be involved, unless it really wishes to be. If they do not participate, be sure to discuss the end result with them.

Key terms

An assumption: An event that must take place or a condition that must exist for a project to succeed, but over which the project management has little or no control.

Impact: Changes that the project may bring about or in the target group, either in terms of the purpose or the goal.

The intervention area is the geographical location (in this case the landing site and or nearby fishing communities) where the project will take place.

Logical framework or logframe. A development tool that helps you to systematically think through the structure of your project and to consider how the tasks lead to certain activities and outputs, the project purpose and its goal, assumptions and risks, the specifying indicators and the means of verification. A Logframe helps to summarize and communicate to others exactly what you are trying to do.

A means of verification is an articulation of exactly which sources and methods internal or external evaluators should use to find proof of project results and indicators.

Project financing is the specification of the partners and stakeholders and the amount of money each contributes to the project. The sum of these contributions add up to the total project budget or cost.

A project proposal describes and summarises the entire project in detail. This document, required by most agencies, helps funding agencies to assess the proposal and take a responsible funding decision. At the same time such a document serves as a guide for project implementation. Apart from background information on the proposed project, it stipulates what the project intends to achieve and how it will be done. It also sets a time frame for activities and stipulates how to check whether you are on the right track and how to know whether you have achieved your objectives.

The project goal or general objective is a wider development purpose to which a project aims to contribute but will not be achieved by the project alone. It is the result of the change in behaviour brought about by a whole series of projects and programmes.

The project purpose or specific objective is the ultimate change in behaviour and conditions that you seek to achieve by implementing a project. The project purpose is the result of the sum of the various project outputs.

A risk refers to the possibility that an assumption will not hold.

The target population is the specific landing site user groups whose livelihoods are to be improved as a result of the project’s implementation.

Steps to take

1. Take four large sheets of paper and place one underneath the other. Each represents a row in the logframe table. Label the rows as follows: goal (or general objective), purpose (or specific objective), outputs and activities. These four rows represent a hierarchy of objectives. Reasoning from the bottom to the top, the activities produce outputs, the outputs achieve the purpose and the purpose achieves the goal. Throughout the logframe exercise, it is important to continue using the causal language you have learned to make sure you have not made a mistake: "if these activities are conducted, then this output will be achieved" and "if this output is achieved, then the purpose will be met."

2. Now put four large sheets of paper above the four rows to create four columns. Label them: narrative summary, objectively verifiable indicators, means of verification and assumptions and risks. A narrative summary refers to a brief description, usually one sentence, describing the goal, purpose, outputs and actvities of your project. Objectively verifiable indicators are targets that prove whether you have achieved what you said you would in the first column. The third column details what sources will prove whether you have met your targets. The last column articulates assumptions you have made or risks that may affect the success of your project. Table 23 below presents the basic layout of a logframe.

3. Start filling in the table. Formulate the project goal and purpose using the landing site strategy at the end of Unit 6. The purpose is the change of behaviour that you seek by implementing your project. It is the reason for the project and the situation you hope to see at the end of it. It states the change in behaviour you hope to achieve.

4. Once you have determined the project purpose you continue by articulating the goal, the "greater" reason for your project. A goal refers to a long-term (five or ten years) change that the project aims to contribute towards, but that is beyond the project horizon. Although a project will make a significant contribution to achieving a goal it is unlikely that it will be able to achieve it alone. Examples of project goals are: "sustainable use of fisheries resources", or "reduced the number of accidents at sea".

5. Obtaining the exact formulation for the goal and purpose can be a time-consuming exercise. Yet it is important to fully agree. There are serious issues of accountability involved because as the manager of the project you will be responsible for turning the purpose and goal into reality. So look back at steps 3 and 4 and make sure you are satisfied with the result, and capable of taking on the responsibility of turning the purpose and goal into reality.

6. Now that you know what change in behaviour you are seeking (the purpose) and why you want to change (goal), look at Unit 7, "Planning outputs and activities", and fill in the outputs and activities in the appropriate place. As a reminder, outputs are project results or deliverables, things that you are planning to produce in order to achieve your purpose. Achieving each of these outputs requires a particular set of activities. Use numbers to indicate each, so you can see which activities go with which outputs, and in which order they come.

7. Having finalized the first column of the logframe, it is easiest to continue with assumptions and risks in the fourth column. Assumptions and risk represent the environment in which the project operates. Assumptions are those events and conditions that must exist if a project is to succeed, but over which you have little or no control. A risk refers to the possibility that an assumption will not hold. Including assumptions and risks in your logframe will help the project manager to monitor the external environment and to make sure it remains favourable.

Go back to your results from Unit 5, "Assessing external threats and opportunities", to see whether these may affect your project. Put each one next to the activity, output, purpose or goal it will affect. Try and assess both the chances that these conditions will change, and if there is a change, how large the impact will be on your project.

8. Once again, check the information in the table using causal sentences. The narrative summary in the first column presents the necessary conditions for success, but they ensure success only if the assumptions with regard to the project environment hold true and risks are controlled. So for example:

If assumptions are not likely to hold, and risks are huge, you might have to consider changing the design of your project or adding another project to your portfolio to mitigate assumptions and risk. In extreme cases, you may even have to decide to abandon the project.

9. Continue filling in the table, moving on to the second column: indicators. Indicators are the concrete proof that you have achieved what you said you would. For example, if your purpose is to encourage fishers to use more sustainable fishing practices, your indicators are the ways you can prove that fishers are really using those practices. Impact indicators refer to the indicators for the project purpose and goal. They show whether the project has affected the intended change. Performance indicators prove that you have delivered the expected outputs. At the level of activities, indicators are really the inputs required to conduct an activity. They are generally expressed as the budget, equipment and staff needed to conduct the activities that in turn will achieve the outputs. You will find the indicators in the monitoring and evaluation plan that you made in Unit 7.

10. The third column in Table 23 is the means of verification, that is, it describes where you are going to find the proof of your indicators. The first three boxes concerning goal, purpose and output level indicate where to find the information needed to measure success (for example project progress reports, baseline studies, project impact assessments, mid-term evaluation reports and sources of statistical information or government offices). The proof of having implemented your activities consists of approved budgets, invoices for equipment and services purchased and contracts with implementing partners and staff. This box is usually completed after completing a project’s budget. You will find the input for the means of verification in the monitoring and evaluation plan (where you have described the sources, methods and formats in which you will provide the indicators).

11. As with the other columns, use causal sentences to check that what you have put in columns 2 and 3 makes sense. Indicators must be precise, independent, measurable and realistic:

Basic layout of a logframe

Narrative summary

Objectively verifiable indicators

Means of verification

Assumptions and risks





Drafting the project description

Where the logframe gives the bare essentials of the project in table form, the project description adds depth. It gives an explanation, the underlying justification, reasoning and vision of the project. It is written in prose, as if you are telling the story of the plan, in a succinct and clear way. Your target audience are the stakeholders from the landing site and the implementing or funding agencies. The project description goes in front of the logframe in the project proposal.

Who should participate

This is a joint effort by you, the funding agency and the implementing partners. The working group need not be involved, though it could send a representative. In either case, the working group should be informed regularly of progress.

Steps to take

1. The first section of your proposal should give the funding agency and implementing partners the context of the proposed activities. This section is often called "Background". It includes:

You can find this information in the situation analysis you did in Unit 5, specifically in the first two exercises: "Assessing internal strengths and weaknesses" and "Assessing external threats and opportunities". You can complete the background description, where this is useful, by adding maps, data and statistics you collected for Units 1 and 2.

2. The next section is the "Justification". In this section, you are providing evidence of:

You can find most of the information for the first two bullet points in Unit 5, specifically in the sections "Conducting a cause-effect analysis" and "Prioritizing problems". Unit 6 should contain the necessary information for the rest of the bullet points.

3. Create another section and call it something like "Project strategy and expected outcomes", which explains the partner agencies what future situation you are aiming to achieve, and how you intend to do it. Describe your development strategy (see the section "Formulating a strategy" near the end of Unit 6), followed by:

You should literally copy the formulation of the above bullet points from the logframe in the previous section, in order to avoid confusion and contradiction within the document. Refer to the logframe and the detailed work-plan, which you will put in the annexes of the project proposal document.

4. The fourth section, Resources and partnerships tells the reader which agency (including his or her own) will do what and how much it will cost. Give the total cost of the project, the time it will take to complete, and how the funds and activities are to be distributed over time. Explain from the sources of funding for the project, how the partners and stakeholders will participate in the project, and how the responsibilities will be divided. Make sure to explain:

Find the necessary information in Unit 6 "Conducting stakeholder analyses" and "Identifying partners" and, where necessary, go to Unit 7 to find the necessary information.

5. As the final part of the project description, insert the reporting and evaluation plan and mechanisms and label them appropriately. Make a list of the workshops, reports and other monitoring and information events and their expected dates. Partner agencies may request that you insert certain conditions: for example, that they will only finance the second part of the project once they have received and approved the report of the first part.

6. Finally, edit the project description. Make sure that the description is clear, to the point, contains no contradictions and no errors. Maintain a level of detail that clearly describes the project but does not lose itself in tangents. Potential project partners are much more likely to support a project they understand. Illustrate with short examples and facts where necessary, but for detailed descriptions refer to the annexes. You will be developing them in the next section!

Putting together the annexes

The annexes of the project proposal show the details of the project plan. It gives specific information that would be confusing to put in the project description, but that is essential for the project manager to be able to implement the project. You will have referred to the annexes in the appropriate places of the project description. The annexes may constitute half or more of the entire project proposal and will go right after the logframe.

Who should participate

As with the previous two exercises, this is a joint effort by you, the funding agency and implementing partners. The working group probably does not need to be involved, unless it really wishes to be, but it does need to be kept up-to-date on progress.

Steps to take

1. The annexes generally contain the following information:

Funding and implementing agencies vary in the level of detail they require, so check with them first - you do not want to spend days on specifying information unnecessarily. The level of detail will also depend on the size and duration of the project. The points below serve as guidelines on what you should most likely include.

2. The details about the landing site may consist of a map, statistical data, some of the institutional diagrams or other information that you gathered during the exercises in Units 2, 3 and 4. Be selective in showing the most important data to give the reader a quick insight into the landing site and its users.

Even if it is not required by the funding or implementing agencies, you should seriously consider making a separate report on your research findings and analysis (Units 2 to 5). This should be given to the implementing agencies, the funding agency and the landing site users. Such a document may serve as a basis for other projects, or as a baseline for the current project against which you can measure its success. Most importantly, it is a way of giving back to the landing site users as thanks for the information and effort they put into the planning process.

3. For both the implementation schedule and the monitoring plan, use the tables that you prepared under Unit 7, "Creating the implementation schedule" and "Planning monitoring and evaluation".

4. With regard to the budget and financing, make use of the budget plan and the periodic budgets that you made for Unit 7, under "Determining resources" and "Creating the implementation schedule". As explained in those sections, you should have asked the funding agency about the required layout for the budget. You may still want to check with them to make sure you are presenting the annex in the form they need.

5. You need to write terms of reference for any people that will be hired by the project: the project manager, project staff, consultants and partner institutions. You may need to work closely with the partner agencies who have expertise in certain areas to ensure the relevant terms of reference (TORs). The TORs outline:

6. In the next annex, include detailed descriptions of outputs, if known. The objective is to be specific as possible so a project manager knows exactly what is expected. Examples are:

7. When all the annexes are completed, give each one an appropriate title that covers its contents. Give each annex a number. Go through the project description to ensure that all the annexes are referred to in the relevant place in the text, so that the reader knows where to look up these details. Insert the number of the relevant annex into the text to make for easy reference.

8. Finally, combine the documents into a single report containing the project description, then the logframe, followed by the annexes. Present it to the funding and/or implementing agency for approval. They may require you to go through a series of revisions. (If you have been involving them in the planning stages [Units 6 and 7], these changes should be minimal.) Once it is approved, project implementation can begin!

Before going on to implementation

You have come to the end of the planning process for a landing site strategy and of this manual: the project is ready to implement. Depending on the project and your agency, you may be part of this new phase, or your formal involvement may stop here.

In either case, it is good to meet once more with the working group. Make sure everyone is clear on what is going to happen next. You should also evaluate the process from Unit 1 to Unit 8. Ask: How did you experience this planning exercise? What did you like, what did you not like and why? What are the implications of this planning exercise in terms of how you relate to the landing site and the user groups? If you were to do a similar exercise again, what would you do differently? And finally, you need to decide during this meeting whether the working group will continue to be active in some form or other, or whether it has finished its mandate.

Repeat this meeting with the landing site user groups, key informants, community leaders and organisations that you have worked with throughout the planning. These people have put much time and effort into this exercise. They deserve to know the outcome, and be able to comment on how useful it was for them. The meeting may decide that there should be certain follow-up activities.

In this case it is important to carry them out. You have started a process and asked people to contribute, so it is important that you round it off well. Thank everyone for their inputs. Depending on local custom, you may also need to make individual visits to community leaders or user group representatives to thank them for their support.

Although this is the end of the planning session, this is the beginning of the most exciting part: implementing a project that will improve the livelihoods of the landing site users.

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