His visit to the village had been brief but productive. Everything inspected, every box ticked. He'd looked at food preparation and water supply. He'd examined Health Post reports, and even had the data in colourful pie charts to show head office.
"Once we build those latrines", he thought to himself, "their health status will improve."
Beautiful, elegant latrines - solid concrete, with corrugated iron doors that shut firmly, rain-proof so their occupants would stay dry, well-ventilated and with taps placed conveniently inside.
Photos of the latrines were shown in PowerPoint in monthly meetings. Everyone patted themselves on the back.
After rainy season had passed it was time to return and see the results - a happy, healthy, grateful community.
With his new digital camera, he approached the first latrine. Unlatching it, he looked inside to see bags of rice and millet.
"Interesting", he thought. "Perhaps we built too many?"
The next one was the same - clean - spotless in fact - yet full of foodstuffs.
As he approached the third latrine, he saw one of the locals.
"Are you going to tell me that latrine is also full of rice?" he asked.
"No, sir", he replied proudly. "That's where the chickens sleep."
Now it will probably seem obvious to you, but when it's WE who are implementing we can often make similar mistakes.
Out initial research can be too narrow. We find it hard to look outside of our area of interest. We think we have the answers. But maybe we aren't asking the right questions - such as what do you really need? Our understanding of the context (rainy weather and foxes), the problem (food becomes spoiled, livestock and poultry lost) and, most of all, what the stakeholder's really want can be inadequate.
Don't be like this guy. (And don't be the people who built the bridge in the wrong place.)
Learn how to plan projects that respond to real community needs; projects that deliver positive measurable change; projects that donors will support.
In fact, we've put together an online training on Results-Based Management, Monitoring and Evaluation that covers ALL the steps of designing a project that gets results. And as well as designing your own project, you also get to build your M&E Plan so you can track progress and demonstrate to donors you really can deliver.
Check it out HERE.