Project Cycle Management Training to Empower Local Communities
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A drive for accountability in public administration throughout development agencies has been manifested in the adoption of tools of strategic planning and ex post evaluation. The result has been the adoption of a planning, implementation and evaluation tool known as the Logical Framework (LF).Previous training assistance in Project Cycle Management (PCM) provided to beneficiaries of PHARE assistance primarily sought to transfer basic information on LF completion in order to achieve the pragmatic objective of receiving documents that would get past the ex-ante check of the European Commission and thus become eligible for funding. As a result, the staff of Civil Society Organisations (CSO) learned how to fulfil the bureaucratic requirement to complete a LF. In fact, most of the organisations would complete the LF after writing up the proposal itself and, after their bid was granted support, never looked at it again!No attention was devoted to instilling the principles of PCM intothe beneficiaries with the result that the quality of PHARE programming documents has not improved over the period of PHARE’s existence. The secondary effect of a substantially disempowered recipient community, alienated from the benefits that PCM holds was equally as damaging to the development process.A case study is presented that contrasts the PCM approach with its LF predecessor and to identify those aspects that contribute to successful development initiatives. The chosen case is a Non-Government Organisation capacity building project from the Czech Republic. Under the support of the British Department for International Development, a small training project was planned, implemented and evaluated that adopted the approach that the LF is an irreplaceable tool for the proper management of the whole Project Cycle, but that people needed to be empowered in its use through the promotion of a participatory process. The scale of the programme was modest, consisting of:- A 4 day training of trainers workshop focusing on PCM and the use of LF, with the last day spent considering issues of how to train in PCM- A fund to support cascading training events for which the trainees could bid.- The trialling and elaboration of a training manual.- A follow-up workshop to evaluate progress and share lessons learned.The participants in the initial training were recruited from all three sectors – state, private and civil society, although the majority represented CSOs. The applicants were required to have previous experience as trainers and to be prepared to cascade the know-how gained. It was important to approach the training methodology for PCM as a piece of mediated experiential learning in order to empower people to get advantages for themselves out of the tool.The most graphic illustration of the success of the initial training workshop was the widespread enthusiasm for donating future time and effort to prepare the case study and training manual. In addition, the scepticism shown for LFs at the outset of the training had been entirely replaced by a pragmatic appreciation for them as management tools.There were 7 additional PCM workshops conducted outside of the funded scheme, which means a minimum of 70 additional people trained. It was clear that this PCM training had targeted a blind spot in the area of CSO training and was met with great demand and interest from CSOs.A number of strengths of the design and implementation of this initiative were identified:- Targeting a blind spot – the absence of a comprehensive methodology in the area of project management.- Including a grant programme for the cascading of training to CSOs within the project budget – ensuring the multiplication effect.- Selection of qualified people for the initial training (the fact that candidates were required to have previous experience as trainers as well as project management issues, and to be willing to transfer the know-how received; representation of all three sector trainers was a distinct plus).- Selection of a trainer that really believed in the PCM approach and had Central European project experience.
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