Step 1. Objectives (what do you want to do?)
The objectives are the single most important part of your project design. They tell the reader what it is you want to do. They are one of the first parts of the concept note that your reader will look at. You need to think very carefully about your objectives before you start to write.An ideal way to start is to get a small group of colleagues together to brainstorm with you. Try to get colleagues from different disciplines to enrich your discussions. Say what it is you have in mind, and then take an hour or more to throw out ideas and write them all on a flipchart. From these ideas you should be able to select those that really express what it is you want to do in your project.Project objectives should
a) correspond to a core problem,
b) define the strategy to overcome the problem, and
c) contribute to the achievement of higher-level development goals.
Before brainstorming the project objectives, reflect on the underlying problems and areas of work which the project is trying to resolve. The problems should be clear. To explain the objective, the core problem is re-formulated from a negative statement into a positive statement, e.g., if the problem is “low maize yield,” the objective will be positively re-formulated as “increased maize yields.”Then the objective will be detailed further. Often a problem may be overcome by using various strategies to find a solution. For example, the objective “Increased maize yields in drought-prone areas” may be achieved by
a) adopting drought-tolerant maize varieties, or by
b) improving agronomic or farming practices.
The choice of strategy has to be made according to the constraints underlying the core problem, which have been assessed in the field. Considering criteria like: resource availability, time needed, likelihood of success to carry out the work. The project objectives should clearly show which strategy the project will pursue.A donor may not fund the project unless the project contributes to a development goal. Therefore the statement of the objective has to indicate in what way the project will contribute to development (e.g. food security in the area; improved health).The full hierarchy of objectives, including the contribution to a development goal for the example we used above, may read like this:
National Development Goal: Increase nutritional health of the population
Program Objective: Increase average maize yields
Project Objective: Drought-tolerant maize varieties adopted