Part 1 – Demystifying Development Jargons
What is the Logical Framework approach?

In a nutshell, the Logical Framework Approach is a map. It is a linear, logic-based tool to create a strong narrative for the project in the design phase. The Logframe Matrix is a graphical representation that summarizes the narrative of the final project design.

A more technical definition of the Logical Framework Approach: it is a planning tool that is used for designing, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating development projects and programs. It summarizes the key elements of a project design and forms the basis for monitoring and evaluation.

Why is it used?

It has become the standard results-based tool for the planning, implementing, and monitoring, and evaluation of development projects and programs, and is very commonly required by donor organizations for grant applications. Therefore, it has become necessary for development professionals and students to be familiar with this approach.

What is the logic?

The steps involved in the Logical Framework Approach allow easy review by those involved in designing a project: to identify, organize, and analyze the problem, address the weaknesses, question the logic, and make informed decisions on how to design the solution based on their understanding of the project rationale. The steps include:

  • Stakeholder Analysis

All individuals or groups directly or indirectly related to the crux of the problem, and will be impacted by the project in the present and the future are identified.

  • Problem Analysis

The central problem is defined. The problem tree is the main tool used in this phase. The analyzed situation is summarized and forms the basis for the hypothesis/assumptions.

  • Solution Analysis

The objective/solution tree is the main tool used in this phase. The problem tree is inverted and reformulated into solutions (positive affirmations).

  • Strategy Analysis

Alternative solutions to the problem are identified. Viable and relevant alternatives are analyzed based on several aspects. The chosen ones will be based on relevance, efficiency, and effectiveness.

  • Logframe Matrix

The main product of the logical framework approach. It is a graphical representation that synthesizes the project activities, products to be delivered, and short, medium, and long-term results to be achieved.

  • Scheduling Activities

Work Breakdown Structure is used. It is a process to schedule all activities necessary to deliver project outputs and results.

  • Resource Scheduling

The process to budget and list all resources required to achieve project outputs and results.

How did it come about?

It originated from a planning approach used by the US Military, which was later adopted by USAID for development projects in 1969. By the 1970s, it was being used by Canadian and German development agencies. Hypothesis (inputs → outputs → purpose → goal) embedded in project design is central to the approach used by the logical framework in development projects.

Aid projects by USAID primarily focused on project inputs, not on outputs and results because the ultimate results were influenced by various factors beyond the control of USAID management. The management wanted to avoid taking responsibility and accountability for said outputs and outcomes. Therefore, the proposed Logical Framework Approach by Leon J. Rosenberg, later adopted by USAID for various projects, addresses the issue of external factors influencing the project by defining 2 roles for the project managers:

  • Managing inputs to produce outputs → objectively verifiable results.
    The managers would be held accountable for the efficiency and effectiveness of translating inputs to outputs.
  • Testing the hypothesis that producing the results will achieve a larger purpose. Achieving the project purpose if the outputs are provided is hypothesized. The evaluation will establish how likely the hypothesis is correct. The managers would be held accountable for the logic and accuracy of reporting.
What is the Logframe Matrix?

The Logframe matrix is a structured graphical representation of the Logical Framework Approach arranged as a matrix with 15 cells. Here are some of the main questions it asks:

  1. What results the project is expected to produce? Are they tangible?
  2. How are these results going to be achieved?
  3. What inputs are required to produce the outputs?
  4. Are the qualitative and quantitative indicators well defined, objectively verifiable?
  5. What data is required to prove if the indicators have been met?
  6. What external factors (assumptions) are essential for the success of the project?

The vertical project narrative follows an if and then logic, framing the hypothesis. If the project activities are successful given the assumptions hold true, then a certain output is attainable. This output will help achieve the project’s purpose and the overall goal. From top to bottom, the long-term to short-term objectives are defined in the project summary as follows:

Overall Goal – A wider goal the project aims to contribute to.

The project purpose – What the project will achieve, who will benefit from it, and by when it will be achieved.

Outputs/Results – Specific results that the project will generate that will help achieve the project’s purpose. Usually 3-5.

Activities – Tasks needed for each output to be achieved.

 

 

The horizontal logic captures the accountability aspect of the Logical Framework Approach. These objectives are measured and achieved from left to right as follows:

Project Summary – The long to short term objectives of the project (Goal, Purpose, Outputs, Activities)

Objectively Verifiable Indicators – It will measure the achievements of the project. A good indicator will identify the target group, quantity/quality, time, and location.

Means of Verification – Data required at baseline, during, and end-line of the project for the indicator. Preferably an external source of data for objectivity.

Risks/Assumptions – Key factors outside the direct control of the project that will impact the project results.

Inputs – Inputs identified to successfully carry out project activities.

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References:

Dillon, L. B. (2019, June 21). Logical Framework Approach. Retrieved October 18, 2020, from https://sswm.info/planning-and-programming/decision-making/planning-community/logical-framework-approach

Larsson, N. (2015, August 17). How to write a logframe: A beginner’s guide. Retrieved October 18, 2020, from https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/aug/17/how-to-write-a-logframe-a-beginners-guide

Logical Framework Approach in a Nutshell [Web log post]. (2014, March 11). Retrieved October 23, 2020, from https://csl4d.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/logical-framework-approach-in-a-nutshell/

Logical Framework: Program Cycle: Project Starter. (2019, August 06). Retrieved October 18, 2020, from https://www.usaid.gov/project-starter/program-cycle/project-design/logical-framework

Rosenberg, L. J., Posner, L. D., & Hanley, E. J. (1970). Project evaluation and the project appraisal reporting system. USA: Agency for international development. Fry consultants incorporated.