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WACSI Secretariat, Accra, Ghana 15th – 17th September, 2010
INTRODUCTION As part of its strategic mandate, the West Africa Civil Society Institute supported by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa organised a 3-day specialised training workshop on “Project Proposal Formulation and Grants Management” for civil society actors in Ghana. The overarching goal of this course was to enhance the ability of trainees to write winning proposals to solicit funds from international donors and, to manage and control program and project funds effectively. This targeted workshop had the following core objectives: To deliver specific knowledge and skills to trainees including planning, strategizing and implementing fundraising approaches; To define the structure of a project proposal and its main elements; To identify main funding sources and appropriate techniques to secure such resources; To enable trainees to be able to appropriately allocate funds and judiciously utilise them; and Task trainees to write a draft project proposal.
To achieve these objectives, the content of the training was tailored to address strategic themes focal to the work of civil society actors. These themes were broadly categorized under project proposal formulation and grants management respectively, to facilitate the understanding of the unique differences that exist between these two subjects. This categorization approach also enabled the specialized training content to be disbursed in a piecemeal approach, allowing for a better understanding of the micro aspects that determine the macro achievements within the civil society sector. The broad and specific themes that were elaborately exhausted to the satisfaction of all stakeholders at this training are enumerated below. Project Proposal Formulation The concept of project proposal formulation; Understanding specific needs of proposal formulation for different types of projects; Project proposal formulation process; Developing a logical framework matrix that will help you define your objectives; and Practical Session: Project proposal writing.
Grants Management Defining and achieving project objectives; Strategic planning efforts; Establishing and respecting specific timelines; Explicit funds allocation and utilisation ; Programs/ project implementation, monitoring and evaluation ; Project risk management ; Ethics in grants management.
Course Methodology The training workshop was delivered using interactive, learner-centered methods, visual tools, experiential learning, and practical exercises. Participants were given the opportunity to use real life/ organisational experiences to proffer their project proposal formulation and grants management skills. In the practical exercise sessions, participants were opportune to address burning issues within contemporary Ghanaian society which calls for urgent civil society intervention. This enabled participants to practically exploit their strengths and realize their weaknesses which were immediately addressed by the facilitator of the training who gave a clear understanding of the challenges participants faced with concepts pertaining to project proposal formulation and grants management, to the satisfaction of all participants. The introductory discussions of the training centred on understanding the civil sector milieu in Ghana. To this, participants stated that: The civil society milieu harbours unhealthy competition; Civil society is dynamic because of changing social environment which influences its work; There is a rapid growth within the sector and this is propagated by the growing social challenges within society; State institutions are promoting the exponential growth of civil society organizations by drifting away from their responsibilities; and Civil society provokes the government to think in the interest of the majority of its citizenry.
The facilitator went on to elaborate on the work civil society does. Civil society focuses its work on projects and their implementation. Policies embody the overarching aim of a
project. Policies are then targeted to map out specific plans from which programmes are shaped and implemented as projects. Projects are a strategic focal area for CSOs. They require project management skills and involve grants management. Funders generally, prefer to support projects that are supportive of government’s action plan or target areas. CSOs should therefore tailor their projects to suit such priority areas and should obligatorily respect the code of conduct of the donor organization in making their request. Despite the need factor portrayed in project demands, projects should be innovative and possess creative inputs which bring out a new area of intervention or achievement when implemented. In categorizing projects to determine priority areas, a suitable approach to use is the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis. Factors attributed to the strengths and weaknesses are internal (of the organization) and should be consolidated and addressed. The opportunities and threats are external factors. They should be carefully exploited, capitalized upon or mitigated. In developing the problem which the project seeks to address, the problem should be substantiated with statistics, anecdotes and quantitative data to enhance its understanding. The problem is strategically addressed to meet the needs of the stakeholders. A stakeholder is anybody who thinks he or she has a stake in the project. It is essential to ascertain their level of ownership of the project. At the conceptualization phase of the project, it is good to organize a stakeholder consultation to understand the interests of the respective stakeholders. This will lead to recommendations that will enhance a smooth realization of the project. A sample comprehensive stakeholder analysis of a project was used to illustrate the above. Considering the construction of an airport in Takoradi, the following stakeholder analysis was developed.
Stakeholder Government agency Community members Community chiefs
Impact Great impact Low impact High
To have a standard High airport To have jobs Compensated land To be recognition Medium for High given High
Construction company Ministry of lands
To do a good job
To validate a High suitable site for the construction work
In writing a project proposal, it is very vital to use diagrams to demonstrate the project cycle and the achievements to be realized. This facilitates the reaching of decisions by donors. It is worth noting that proposals developed in the academia are not the same as those developed within the development milieu and thus both approaches are independent as they target different objectives and audiences. THE LOGICAL FRAMEWORK APPROACH The logical framework has the optimum goal of achieving or attaining a development goal. The Logical Framework Matrix was developed by L.J. Rosenberg and L. D. Posner (Practical Concepts Incorporated, PCI) in 1969 and it was field-tested in 1970 by USAID. After successfully testing the instrument, it was adopted by USAID, CIDA, UNDP, ILO as well as GTZ in Germany in 1970. Since then it has been widely used as a standardized approach towards implementing and realizing development oriented projects. It is a method of planning, comprising a set of steps and a range of “tools” which aim to clarify perceptions, explore options and make choices about what solutions would effectively address particular problems. It is purposely used to: Analyze the context of the problem. It has a firm grip of an understanding of the problem and the environment in which the project will be conducted; and to Design the project.
The logical framework approach helps to achieve the following: To state clear objectives; Facilitates monitoring and evaluation of the project; and Reporting on different levels of attainment of the objective.
The logical framework contains two interwoven logical approaches: the vertical and horizontal logics. While the vertical logic depicts a vivid orientation of the implementing organization towards achieving success, the horizontal logic shows the donor’s orientation in a project. Intervention logic Overall objective Project purpose Results Activities Verifiable indicators Sources of verification Assumptions
Log frame key Vertical logic organization oriented Horizontal logic donor oriented
OUTPUT: observable change when a project activity is completed OUTCOME: impact or ripple effect of a project activity. It involves the long term results as a result of a project. GOAL: it is like a light at the end of a tunnel which indicates the final destination. It should be stated as a brief but comprehensive statement. INPUT: this involves the inputs and expertise utilized or required to kick- start the project implementation phase. As a rule of thumb, it is strongly recommend that a project have only one Purpose. Again, the reason for this is practical. Experience demonstrates that it is easier to focus project Outputs on a single Purpose.
Multiple Purposes diffuse project efforts and weaken the design. RISK MANAGEMENT Risks are threats. This could be positive or negative threats which have an influence on a project. Risk management therefore involves preventing or controlling threats from influencing a project negatively. Therefore, risk management involves increasing the probability that a positive threat occurs or decreasing the probability that a negative threat occurs. From the comprehensive discussions and learning, participants worked in groups to develop a project proposal. The information in the three appendices were outputs from the three groups. From the group exercises the following key issues were addressed. The title of the project of the project should be catching, comprehensive and explicit. The title should give a clear picture of the direction the project intends to take. The title should convey urgency and action. Do not make categorical, vague, unrealistic and baseless statements or assumptions. Base arguments on facts. Assumptions should not be stated following a generalized perspective. They should be targeted at the specific logical intervention and showing how if minimized could lead to the attainment of the next level of success of the project. Use diagrams to demonstrate at different levels of intervention. Equally use artistic display to demonstrate a pictorial view of how the project will bring about change. Know who the decision maker is. Also endeavour to find out his specific areas of interests and priority areas. State the kind of information to be collected from statistical sources. In stating problem, base arguments on facts curling from general findings to findings most closely related to the target group in question.
From the three day specialized training, the participants expressed maximum satisfaction with the training content, methodology and the logistics provided during the training. As a representative remark made on behalf of participants, they appreciated the initiative and the inputs of WACSI to make the training a success but called on WACSI to forge on with such skills empowering programmes without inflicting cost on the participants.
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