February 20, 2020
TRAINING: Developing aid-worthy projects and project proposals
3-7 February 2020, AFoCO RETC, Myanmar Formalized in 2018, the AFoCO has been actively undertaking and promoting action-oriented forest cooperation programs and projects in Asia. In order to realize the outcome of the Organization on the ground, the AFoCO Strategic Plan (2019-2023) and Project Manual, together with relevant guidelines, were developed in collaboration with Member Countries to ensure effectiveness and efficiency in project implementation. AFoCO projects are being formulated across the five priority strategic areas of AFoCO, dealing with restoration and reforestation models, R&D for climate change adaptation, forest community livelihood and small enterprises, response mechanisms to forest-related disasters, and enhancing institutional capacities and regional cooperation. Every year, following the dissemination of a call for proposals, the Organization receives proposals targeted at resolving forestry issues aligned with Member Countries’ national policies, programs, and priorities. While there is an existing procedure in the project formulation and appraisal, the dearth of well-formulated and technically sound project proposals remains as one of the major constraints faced by Member Countries during fund-related negotiation. In the national context, there is a shortage of manpower with appropriate knowledge and skills in project Concept Note and Full Proposal development. Likewise, there is a general sentiment during the previous Project Development Training that an introduction of tools and methodologies in project development, as well as leveling-off on the requirements of the project manual, is needed. In early February, 21 government officials from AFoCO Member Countries gathered at the AFoCO RETC in Myanmar to learn about how to formulate sound and aid-worthy projects that reflect stakeholders’ needs and address AFoCO’s Strategic Priority Areas. The interactive 5-day course is the second project development course organized by AFoCO. Through group work and discussions, participants were given ample opportunities to share information on the project-related materials of AFoCO and develop their project formulation skills. Potential AFoCO projects to be implemented at the country and regional levels in the future also transpired from the discussions. “The success of project implementation and the achievement of project objectives begins with the formulation of good proposals,” says Mr. Orlando Panganiban, who led the segment on the ‘Logical Framework Approach’. As part of the enhancement of the course, several tools such as Problem Analysis (guided by Problem and Objective Tree development), Stakeholders’ Analysis, and Logical Framework were integrated in the training modules, including exercises using the trainees own national context and future needs. Towards the end of the training, participants of each country were able to apply the tools in actual project concept notes that have at the outset of the training. At the end of the training, the participants collectively recommended sustaining the implementation of the training course and proposed several recommendations to further improve the training curriculum: The training covered two major topics — project development to learn AFoCO project formulation processes and identify potential country-specific and regional projects as well as to improve project proposal skills. It is suggested that separate training curricula be designed for each topic to leave more time for discussions and enhance the effectiveness of the training. The introduction of project analytical tools and processes such as the Problem and Stakeholders Analysis, Logical Framework Analysis are regarded as practical means to prepare Project Concept Notes and Project Proposals. The course program may be further reviewed possibly extended to sustain the delivery of modules on the said tools and processes. As project development is directly linked with the whole cycle of project management, the current modules and contents may be reviewed in consideration of transforming the training into a Project Management Training.