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What is the logical framework approach?

In the field of international development, specific methods and approaches are used to plan a cooperation intervention. Many of them have been developed for the particular needs of donors. In this article, we briefly present the most widely used results-based approach: the logical framework approach.

Where is the “logic”?

The Logical Framework Approach (LFA) was first used in international development by USAID in 1969. Over the years, it has established itself as a standard in international cooperation circles. The LFA mainly consists of developing an intervention strategy based on the “cause-effect” or “means-ends” chain to link all elements of an intervention.

Generally, the elaboration of the results chain starts to be understood from its end, from the outcomes. The cause-effect relationship is justified in reverse: “to achieve this result, I need that activity”. We also have to take into account that we act in complex social systems. Therefore, assumptions and risks may play a role at each level. In LFA, their influence has to be analysed and some measures have to be taken to mitigate their possible consequences.  Like other approaches, the LFA is not complete without well-defined measurable performance indicators and their sources of verification.

The Logical Framework Matrix

This methodology covers 3 areas:

1º. Analysis of the context of the intervention.
2º. The classification and structuring of the ideas.
3º. The presentation of the project in a clear and standardised way.

Sometimes projects have apparently been formulated under the Logical Framework methodology, but they have only applied this methodology for the presentation of the project, and not as a tool for analysing the context or for organising the ideas. This is a mistake that should be avoided.

The Logical Framework Matrix is usually a table composed of the following fields:

Logic of the intervention Objectively verifiable indicators Verification sources Assumptions
 

1. Overall objective

 

 

 

Objective to which the project is expected to make a significant contribution  

Not applicable*

 

Not applicable*

 

Not applicable*

 

2. Specific Objective

 

 

 

The effect expected to be achieved as a result of the project. Measures (direct and indirect) of achievement of the objective Instrument for measurement of indicators Events, conditions or decisions, outside the

control of the project, necessary to achieve the objective

 

3. Result(s)

They can be 1, 2, 3, 4 depending on each project.

 

 

Results that the project management must ensure Measures (direct and indirect) of achievement of the result. Events, conditions or decisions, outside the

control of the project, necessary to achieve the result(s)

 

4. Activities

 

 

 

The activities that the project has to undertake to produce the results  

5. Resources

Goods and services needed to carry out the project.

 

6. Costs

Cost of means

 

The logic of the intervention

When writing a project, the first thing to do is to fill in the first column (logic of the intervention) from top to bottom.

  1. Overall objective: Describe in advance the long-term objective to which the project will contribute.
  2. Specific objective: Describes the expected effects of the project for the beneficiaries. It should be unique, and usually coincides with the title of the project.
  3. Results: These are expressed as objectives to be ensured by the project management during the life of the project.
  4. Activities: expressed as concrete interventions.
  5. Means: Material and non-material resources needed to carry out the activities.
  6. Costs: Money needed to obtain the means.

External factors

Experience shows that it is not enough to carry out the activities to achieve the results, nor are the results sufficient to achieve the specific objective. Other conditions outside the direct control of the project, called external factors, must also be present. I fill in the last column of the matrix.

Example: to achieve the result “indigenous women lead their communities through leadership schools”, leadership schools are not enough if women cannot participate in the board of directors because they have to raise children. Therefore, the condition that has to be met (external factor) is that “there is a community care system that allows women to exercise a leadership role”.

Indicators and sources of verification

Indicators are a way to measure the achievement of objectives and results. All objectives and results should have indicators, which can be quantitative or qualitative.

Example: for the outcome “indigenous women lead their communities through leadership schools”, a quantitative indicator can be: “at the end of the project, 50% of the community leaders in the department of Aguas Caliantes are women”. An example of a qualitative indicator could be: “at the end of the project, the leadership schools in the Est region are spaces where women’s empowerment is promoted”.

When defining indicators, it is also necessary to specify how they will be measured, which is known as the source of verification. If an indicator does not have a source of verification, it should be replaced by another that does. It should always be borne in mind that data collection should not be excessively costly compared to the benefit it brings. If the collection process is impractical, another indicator should be chosen.

Example: the source of verification for our first indicator could be the “disaggregated list of all community leaders in the department of Aguas Calientes”. For the second indicator, it could be the “curriculum of the leadership schools where the modules inherent to women’s empowerment are shown”, the “number of women enrolled”, an “evaluation survey of the participants in the leadership schools”.

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About Felipe Nitsche

Felipe is an expert in international cooperation and humanitarian action. Extensive experience in human rights mainstreaming perspectives, social cohesion, project design, women's economic empowerment and generation of opportunities for refugees, migrants and host community members. He has worked in different countries in South America, Africa and Asia as program coordinator in the field of child protection, refugees and livelihood.  Since 2019 he is based in Spain, where he works in humanitarian action projects with refugee population.
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