The team now has to take the vision and objectives and transform these into strategic options or, as they are often called, programmes and projects.

A programme vs. a project

A programme is a group of related projects managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits not available from managing the projects individually. A programme will be an offshoot of the strategic objectives set in the previous phase. A project is on the other hand a fixed time frame undertaking to create a unique product or service. A project has a defined start and end point and specific objectives that, when attained, signify completion. Programmes are normally wider in scope and more long term in nature than projects.

A strategy is more than the sum of projects.  It is a meaningful grouping of projects that work together to meet the strategic objectives. Benefits should be gained from synergies and conflicts avoided or minimised.

There is not a “magic button” that allows a strategy to be developed, rather alternative strategies emerge from the process of analysing problems and opportunities and also from reviewing existing programs and plans.

Potential action areas will already have emerged in Phase 2 during the use of tools such as problem tree analysis and force-field analysis. They typically relate to actions to overcome the “root causes” of problems, or actions to overcome “restraining forces” in force-field analysis.  New action areas also have to be connected to existing plans, projects and programmes.  These already have investment of time, money and political will.  Linking to them can help a new strategy get underway quickly. Ignoring them can lead to early opposition.  Sometimes existing projects can be modified, for example in location to improve an overall strategy.

The connections between action areas can be explored using linkage analysis.  This encourages relating projects to each other and to the strategic objectives.  It identifies where linkages are positive or negative and from this it helps to identify groups of projects which can work together.  It also helps to show where changes can be made to better meet objectives.

In the process of developing strategies, it is also good to identify alternative strategies which will allow later testing using tools such as Goals Achievement Matrix (see phase 3.1 step 5 and the discussion in phase 3.3).

There is an overlap between the broader work done on the overall strategy in this phase and the more detailed work carried out in the action plans of phase 3.3.  The approach and tools are similar; the level of detail is different.  For example, at this stage it is sufficient to have broad indications of potential costs and available budgets.  This allows the broad scope to be assessed.  This helps avoid going into too much detail in developing action plans which have little chance of success.

In this period, the team will work closely with municipal departments and others to define and outline the projects in general terms. The outcome of this step will be alternative strategies containing long lists of projects, with basic elements of the projects described. Prioritization within the long lists can be done in a participative manner using tool 17, Goals Achievement Matrix.  This can be done at this stage and then refined with more developed projects in phase 3.3.

The team will organise consultations with key stakeholder groups to discuss project options and get feedback. The city can also decide to launch a call for projects ideas and proposals[1].

The section below provides an illustration of a project programming sheet.

Another tool that can be used in project formulation is a tool called the Logical Framework Approach. The Logical Framework Approach (LFA) is a methodology used for designing, monitoring, and evaluating international development projects. Variations of this tool are known as Goal Oriented Project Planning (GOPP) or Objectives Oriented Project Planning (OOPP).

The section below presents a simple representation of a log frame that enables a city to organise its objectives (long and shorter term), the baseline situation, the results expected and the activities needed to achieve these results.


[1] VNG International, 2010. Municipal development strategy process : a toolkit for practitioners. The Hague: VNG International. Available at: [Accessed 29 August 2016].

Figure 1: Example of a project programming sheet.

Figure 2 provides a simple representation of a log frame. It allows the city to organise clearly its objectives (long and shorter term), the baseline situation, the results expected and the activities needed to achieve these results. The framework also includes a series of indicators to measure the achievement of the goals, objectives and results.

Figure 2: Example of a Logical Framework matrix.

[1] VNG International, 2010. Municipal development strategy process : a toolkit for practitioners [Accessed 29 August 2016].

The CDS team, with technical support, will clarify the legal and political framework in which these programmes and projects will take place. The team should ask itself at this point, ‘is the enabling environment necessary for the implementation of these projects in place, or are there still some potential constraints to implementation?’ The team will identify these potential constraints and what has to be done to eliminate them.


The political and legal assessment executed during the municipal institutional assessment (phase 1.2) is an important input into this step.

The team might find, for instance, that certain projects are subject to regulations of different ministries, which are also sometimes in conflict. These conflicts have to be settled. In addition, the team might determine that there is opposition from a political party to certain projects and that the reasons for the opposition might have to be discussed and allayed, if possible.

Programmes and projects will be accompanied by outline budgets. The team, working with the departments, will assess the financing framework (assets, budget sources). They will begin to determine whether projects will be funded from the municipal budget or will require funds from the national government, private sector, donors, or loans.

The CDS team and departments should start working on the outlining of the multi sector investment plan that will structure the expenditure and revenue streams for the entire project portfolio. This is done initially at a broad level.

This implies collecting information on existing project proposals at the level of  main features, preliminary budget and location (see step 4), and of obtaining very rough initial budget estimates of potential projects.

The investment plan will look at the life cycle costing of the projects, including the capital investments needed and as well operation and maintenance costs, over a multi-year time frame. The investment plan will also plan and sequence the implementation of projects and the allocation of resources from within the local government and other actors involved in the projects.  This will be detailed as described in phase 3.3, step 3.

The World Bank has produced a Guidebook on Capital Investment Planning for Local Governments , Kaganova 2011.

The team will now work closely with the departments and with the planning department to locate the projects chosen on the statutory plans. This will help to coordinate projects spatially, to connect to existing plans and to look at possible influences of projects on each other – providing either synergies or conflicts.

The team will be faced with a long ‘wish’ list of projects, not all of which can be executed. They will now have to prioritise and choose the options. This will require working with a multi-criteria decision making process to make a selection. The team and the departments will have to design a set of objective criteria that rate projects.

The design of the criteria can be done within the team but should be endorsed by the various parties and wider stakeholder groups. In other words, the criteria used to choose projects should be discussed in a transparent manner, so that there is no feeling on the part of stakeholders that projects were chosen indiscriminately. The team should discuss with the departments, the mayor and city council, as well as in thematic stakeholder working groups.


The criteria developed will rate the feasibility as well as the potential positive and negative impacts of the projects. There are a number of additional tools that can be used at this juncture, see tools listed below and the following techniques:

Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA), a simple way of weighing project costs and benefits, to help in deciding whether to go ahead with a project. It involves comparing the benefits of a project and these with the costs associated with it.

Environmental impact assessment (EIA), a process of evaluating the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development, taking into account inter-related socio-economic, cultural and human-health impacts, both beneficial and adverse.

Social impact assessment (SIA) is a methodology to assess the social effects of infrastructure projects and other development interventions. Although SIA is usually applied to planned interventions, the same techniques can be used to evaluate the social impact of unplanned events, for example disasters, demographic change and epidemics.

The team will now have a short list of projects, and corresponding budgets. They will confirm with the thematic groups and in a wider forum that there is consensus on the prioritisation of activities and options. This will be the final step prior to working out the projects in detail. It is therefore best for there to exist clear support for the choices made, to avoid potential opposition.


Strategy formulation, gender and poverty[1]

This phase focuses on the articulation of programmes and projects. The CDS team is again faced with setting up a process that produces projects that are pro-poor and gender sensitive, and that also allows women and the poor to generate project ideas that reflect their priorities.

When outlining project ideas, it is essential to think from the start about what the differences in priorities are, as well as about the potential effect of an initiative might have on women and the poor. The UN has produced a series of checklists that check to see whether initiatives are gender sensitive. In the formulation of projects ideas, this is an effective way of assessing whether gender is mainstreamed into projects[2].

The following is an example of thinking in gender terms during the making of the strategy, one can think in similar terms when considering the poor:

“The formulation of a national water strategy can be taken as an example. At one level the strategy is about water resources – how water is collected, used, protected, monitored, and contaminated, and how to ensure future supply. At another level it is about the users – their specific uses, their rights and access to and control over water resources and their involvement in decision-making. A gender perspective raises questions about:

  1. Whether or not women’s and men’s uses (for both domestic and economic use) and priorities for water are different. It is important that there is analysis of sex-disaggregated data on uses, access to water, priorities, etc. (which may require steps to ensure that such data is regularly collected and analysed). It is also critical to ensure a consultation process that seeks the inputs of women as well as men in identifying uses and priorities;
  2. Whether or not various policy options will affect women and men differently — for example, how would different approaches to water pricing affect poor women in comparison with poor men? What options would have the most equitable distribution of costs and access? [2]

With regard to allowing for the generation of ideas on projects by women and the poor, it is essential that the design of the participatory process incorporates an approach that allows for this. The Grameen Foundation confirms this, stating that the inclusion of the poor should be integral to the design of projects:

“First, our methodology ensures inclusion of the poor when designing products and services. This sounds obvious but can be difficult to implement. When we develop new products and services, we don’t develop them for the poor – we develop them with the poor. Our methodology incorporates direct feedback from the poor in the design process: human-centred design. It has revolutionized our ability to design, test and launch new products and services quickly, and to get those products to market through scaling partners in a way that solves real problems for the poor and poorest. In this context, it is also essential to measure whether benefits are accruing to these individuals – and also whether a product is inadvertently harming them.”

Source: Poverty-focused innovation : how to foster creating an agency for the poor.


Output of this sub-phase: wish list of projects with outline budgets (programmed in simple terms), a short list of agreed and prioritised projects.


[1] There are number of good publications on approaches fostering inclusion of women and the poor:

ADB  2013 Tool kit on gender equality results and indicators

European Commission 2004. Toolkit on mainstreaming gender equality in EC development cooperation

Employers’ Resource Center (ERC) A toolkit for gender equality in practice

[2] United Nations, 2002: 15 Gender mainstreaming : an overview.