DM&E Tip: Measurable Goals and Objectives

Developing measurable goals and objectives is an important step in the project design process, and one that seems to be frequently overlooked in peacebuilding programming. We have a tendency to not only overpromise the results, but also on the timeframe the results could be realistically achieved in. We need to do better, not just to be accountable to donors or even to ourselves, but to the people we serve.

Clearly stated goals and objectives provide the scope, focus and purpose to the project. Goals link the project to the desired change in the broader conflict, while objectives describe the knowledge, attitudinal and behavioral changes that are prerequisites to achieving the goal. In other words, goals operationalize impacts and objectives operationalize outcomes (results).

Hot Resource! Check out Cheyanne Church and Mark Rogers’ Designing for Results: Integrating Monitoring and Evaluation in Conflict Transformation Activities, Chapters 3 and 4 for more on measurable goals, objectives and indicators.

Generally, there are four pitfalls to be avoided when conceptualizing measurable goals and objectives.

1. Defining goals too narrowly so that they appear to be objectives or activities; defining objectives so broadly or narrowly that they appear to be goals or activities

Narrow Goal: Media in Kosovo will prevent violence between religious sectors through increased professionalism gained from training.

Broad Objective: To prevent election-related violence in Kenya.

  • Remedy: Think in terms of what the activities are designed to achieve. Shift thinking away from describing activities and toward describing the knowledge, attitude or behavior changes those activities are intended to achieve in the project participants and/or context. This will result in a stronger orientation towards results rather than activities. Remember, activities are action steps taken to get to objectives or goals.

Goal: Media professionals will strengthen capacity to raise awareness of and promote religious freedom in Kosovo.

Objective: Journalists in Kosovo will report more balanced news stories and facilitate on-air dialogues related to issues of religious diversity after training.

2. Stating implementation or operational benchmarks as goals or objectives

Goal as operational benchmark: Training will be provided to 25% of Kenyans to help them shift their identity from tribal membership to seeing themselves as a Kenyan first.

Objective as operational benchmark or an output: To increase the number of mediators trained in Rwanda by 15%.

  • Remedy: Write the goal in terms of changes that will occur in the knowledge, attitude or behavior in participants. The focus is thereby shifted to the result rather than the activity conducted to achieve it.

Goal: There will be a 25% increase in the number of Kenyans who identify themselves as Kenyans first before tribal affiliation.

Objective: Mediation centers will increase capacity to effectively mediate and resolve land-based disputes.

Hot Resource! A Guide to Actionable Measurement by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

3. Writing compound goals or objectives

Compound Goal: To develop the capacity and professionalism of the Burundian police and media and journalists to manage difficult situations and prevent further violence.

Compound Objective: To contribute to the counter-radicalization process in Indonesia and rebut violent and extremist theological arguments that support terrorism.

  • Remedy: Focus on one target audience and/or change at a time.  Structure the goals and objectives statements so that the target audience for the project is the subject and the change in knowledge, attitude or behavior is the verb.

Hot Tip! Your goal or objective might be too broad if it has ‘and’ in it.

Goal: (1) Burundian police forces will develop the capacity and professionalism to successfully manage and de-escalate difficult situations with potentially high levels of tensions that could erupt in conflict in the period leading up to the 2010 elections. (2) To develop the capacity and professionalism of journalists and media outlets to prevent the media from being co-opted into public violence.

Objective: (1) Prisoners in Indonesian state and regional facilities will increase their knowledge of Islamic theological arguments against violence.

Hot Resource! Check out Catholic Relief Services’ Guidance for Developing Logical and Results Frameworks by Carlisle J. Levine

4. The passive voice

Passive voice Goal: To build the capacity of the justice sector in Timor-Leste [action] to achieve equal and timely access for men, women and children [subject].

  • Remedy: Rephrase the sentence so that the subject performs the action expressed in the verb. This is referred to as the active voice and makes the sentence meaning clearer for readers. Active voice sentences are also more concise than those in passive voice because fewer words are required to express them. Passive voice sentences are easily recognized because the verb will always include a form of be, such as am, is, was, were, are or been.

Active voice Goal: “The men, women and children of Timor-Leste [subject] will achieve equal and timely access to justice [result] by building the capacity [action] of the justice sector.”

Hot Tip! The Learning Portal for DM&E for Peacebuilding is preparing to release a series of self-guided training modules that breaks each phase of the project cycle down into manageable steps, including practice exercises! Check back this summer for more details.

Hot Resources

Free Online! Designing for Results: Integrating Monitoring and Evaluation in Conflict Transformation Activities by Cheyanne Church and Mark Rogers for Search for Common Ground

Free Online! Catholic Relief Services’ Guidance for Developing Logical and Results Frameworks by Carlisle J. Levine

Free Online! Measuring Progress in Conflict Environments (MPICE): A Metrics Fram... edited by John Agoglia, Michael Dziedzic and Barbara Sotirin

Free Online! A Guide to Actionable Measurement by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


Jonathan White is the Manager of the Learning Portal for DM&E for Peacebuilding at Search for Common Ground. Views expressed herein do not represent SFCG, the Learning Portal or its partners and affiliates. 

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Tags: design, goal, m&E, objective


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Comment by Jonathan White on April 13, 2012 at 11:06am

Thank you Aurang. Glad it was useful! :)

Comment by Dr. Aurang Zeib on April 13, 2012 at 6:47am

Hi Jonathan

Thanks for uploading this !

It was really helpful for some of my friends and myself as well.

Excellent Work !!!!!

Comment by Jonathan White on April 11, 2012 at 11:57am

Thanks for comments everyone! Since this seems to be well received I will start producing DME tips on a regular basis. They will be released every Thursday and will compliment that week's Featured Resources and Blog (also posted here on PCDN). Next week will be on evaluation utilization processes--keep an eye out for it and don't forget to visit the Learning Portal at! 



Comment by Mohammad Tahir on April 10, 2012 at 7:40am

Reference to the above discussion i am pleased to introduce and as sanitation is also a global issue, now we can think that how we utilize the sector for peace

Community Led Total Sanitation

as a Livelihoods Entry Point –  A Brief Introduction


Katherine Pasteur, Institute of Development Studies, Univ of Sussex, (Sept 2005)


A livelihoods approach takes a holistic and integrated approach to development in communities, however a key challenge can be finding an entry point. Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) has been found to be an effective entry point activity for wider livelihood interventions. This document outlines the CLTS approach to sanitation, building solidarity and a sense of empowerment to take further action for community improvement. It describes experiences from Bangladesh as illustration of successes and challenges.


The Sustainable Livelihoods Approach and CLTS: some background

A sustainable livelihoods approach to development recognises that poor people’s lives and the choices they make are complex and dynamic.  As such it aims to understand the multiple dimensions of poverty including its underlying causes and take a holistic and integrated approach to addressing them. The livelihoods framework serves a checklist of issues to take into consideration. Thus livelihoods programming can encompass strengthening assets, such as physical (home, infrastructure), human assets (health, education, skills), financial assets (credit), social assets (groups, family) and natural (land); creating an enabling environment through improved governance; and reducing vulnerability to shocks and stresses (e.g. seasonal food shortages, natural disasters, etc). Furthermore, any programming, for sustainability and effectiveness, should be centred around peoples own priorities determined through their own analysis of their situation, and should build on their existing strengths.


This checklist presents a wide range of options for strengthening livelihoods. In a practical sense though, and particularly when working at a community level, the challenge can be where to start. In many cases participatory analysis of community issues (using tools such as PRA[1]), needs and strengths can reveal many pressing priorities, embracing a range of complex issues, from addressing gender discrimination to ensuring state provision of schooling or improving labour rights. These are daunting issues to begin to tackle. What is generally needed is a quick win to boost the confidence of the community and let them see that their collective action can achieve positive development outcomes.


Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) involves mobilising communities to build latrines and completely eliminate open defecation. Through a process of facilitation, community members come to realise the links between open defecation and negative health impacts, and as a result they become motivated to take collective action to change this practice. A collective strategy to ensure that both rich and poor have access to and use latrines is critical, as even if a few people continue open defecation the negative impacts are felt by all. Collective action is also important to set a precedence for working together on future issues which are likely to require collaboration from all members of the community.


With effective facilitation, total sanitation can be achieved at relatively low cost in a matter of a few weeks or months. Once this is achieved, there are two major implications. Firstly, the number of flies and incidence of diarrhoea and dysentery decline dramatically and the health of particularly poor families is improved. This can have a huge implication for household spending much of which is spent on medical consultations and treatments for diarrhoea and dysentery. Secondly, people realise that they can achieve something for a community wide benefit through collective action. Having organised themselves to take this first action, they are inspired and empowered to take action in other areas to improve their livelihoods.


CLTS is achieved through effective facilitation and the use of PRA methods such as transect walks, mapping and community discussions. The aim of the facilitator is to make households aware of the links between open defecation and diarrhoeal diseases. Simply put, the facilitator helps people see that as a result of open defecation they are in effect consuming their own faeces. Once householders realise this crude fact they become highly motivated to construct latrines and change their behaviour. The facilitation styles is key: the facilitator should not try to ‘educate’ people or to tell them what to do. They should merely raise awareness of the implications of open defecation and help facilitate community situation analysis and action planning.


The community’s own initiative and innovation should be encouraged in terms of latrine construction. External hardware support (such as cement rings and slabs) should not be offered, though some ideas for design of low cost latrines may be shared where this knowledge does not already exist. Where hardware subsidies are offered they tend to be taken by the elites, or high quality latrines are constructed but not actually used. They also encourage dependence and a preference for external models. Many low cost models have evolved as a result of ingenuity of particularly the poorer householders.


Why is CLTS a good entry point for Livelihoods interventions?

CLTS is a highly effective entry point as it mobilises community members towards collective action and empowers them to take further action in the future. Sanitation improvements have immediate health benefits which quickly demonstrate to householders the success of their collective action in improving their personal and community wide wellbeing. This serves an initial illustration of what can be achieved through undertaking further initiatives for their own development.


Taking collective action and achieving success builds pride and self esteem which is itself a form of social capital. This can benefit individuals and households in many ways. It gives them self worth and encouragement to take many other small actions for personal betterment


The PRA exercises carried out for the purpose of CLTS can be a start point for further community analysis to identify other priorities to be addressed. Mapping of households with and without latrines can be developed into wealth ranking of households and mapping of other community resources. Discussion of sanitation can lead onto other hygiene and health related issues such as hand washing, wearing sandals, availability of contraception, maternal and child health problems, or ensuring provision of improved health services.


Natural leaders may emerge from within the community through the process of CLTS who will be effective in mobilising and motivating households in future activities. Natural leaders are often women as well as men, resulting in leadership of activities relevant to both, e.g. fishing rights may be an issue for men, and fuel efficient stoves a project for women to pursue. Natural leaders may also become facilitators of CLTS in other villages spreading the approach as well as offering them a potential opportunity for income.


Discussing sanitation can be an uncomfortable or embarrassing issue which is typically avoided. In addressing this topic in a public way then barriers are broken down and other topics are easier to deal with in the future. It will also bring out power issues, including access to land, who owns available resources. Sanitation is an issue which crosses social strata and requires collaboration of all, both poor and rich, young and old, women and men, to achieve a successful outcome. It usually involves elites offering support in the form of temporary use of latrines, loan of land or material to construct a latrine, or even financial donation to poorer members to achieve this end.  Once such cooperation has been achieved in the case of sanitation, and community solidarity is established, future actions become much easier to organise.


Experience in Bangladesh

Initial experience in developing the Community Led Total Sanitation approach comes from Bangladesh. It was pioneered by Kamal Kar (a consultant) working VERC (Village Education Resource Centre) a local partner of Water Aid. It has since been taken up by several other NGOs including CARE, Plan and World Vision. The approach has grown rapidly in popularity and commitment to implementation on a large scale has intensified to the extent that a conservative estimate by Water Aid suggests that around 2,000 villages have achieved total sanitation through this process. This section will review some of the experiences of CARE villages where CLTS has led to further livelihood activities.


Successful livelihoods interventions: Kazibara in Maizchar Union was the first village in Bajitpur District to achieve 100% total sanitation through facilitation by CARE Bangladesh staff. In the two years since then, improvements have been made to many of those original latrines, for instance from just a tin sheet moulded by hand into a pan, to purchasing a simple plastic pan, to upgrading to a concrete slab with inbuilt pan. How are these costs of such upgrading borne by the very poor? Villagers say that they are saving 2-3,000 Taka per year which they previously spent on treatments for diarrhoea. A concrete slab costs only 800 Taka by comparison. There has not been a single case of diarrhoea in this community this year. There are no flies to be seen, and there is no unpleasant smell, both of which make a huge difference to women who spend a lot of time in the community.


During the process of working towards total sanitation the community formed a Village Development Committee (VDC) in order to manage this process. Subsequently, the community, with leadership from the VDC, has planted “kurosh” plants around the village which serve as protection against erosion; they have encouraged planning of fruit trees in the homestead; and they are ensuring that all children are attending primary school. They are also currently looking into collectively investing in solar power for the village through a loan.


When the VDC was established there were not many women members. They asked themselves, why not form our own group? They heard about fuel efficient ovens from an NGO and 80 families have learned to make these including testing some innovations to reduce the smoke impacts. They have also established a savings group and have been producing handicrafts which they sell in nearby villages and towns.


In terms of plans for the future, they aim to address family size (through family planning), early marriage and dowry. These are more complex social issues which they may not have had the confidence to address before. Now they have achieved so much they feel empowered to improve their lives in other ways and will not be deterred.


A self-spreading entry point!: In Kaimer Bowli village in Bajitpur,  the idea of total sanitation did not come from an NGO – the motivation came from the community itself on hearing what was happening in surrounding villages. When visitors came to their village they would complain about the smell and the lack of latrines. Then when some community members visited other villages and saw for themselves the difference, they realised that they had to take similar action. When they called a village meeting few disagreed and there was considerable cost and labour sharing to ensure that even the poorest could build latrines. This in itself built solidarity in the community.

Once each community achieves total sanitation, they put up a sign to say that no-one defecates in the open in this village, and families say that they will not allow their daughters to marry into villages where open defecation continues. These factors aid the spontaneous spread of CLTS further, as more and more communities hear about it and want to achieve the same. As this can be facilitated by natural leaders from any of the successful communities, there is no need to wait for an NGO or government programme to come to their aid.

One year after they have achieved total sanitation villagers of Kaimer Bowli and are tackling more costly and challenging issues such as addressing wave erosion and securing fishing rights (raising funds to get a collective government lease). 


What problems does CLTS present as an entry point?

The above sections have proposed that CLTS can be an excellent entry point for ongoing, sustainable livelihoods activities. However there are some challenges and points of caution. Successful of CLTS is highly dependent on effective facilitation, i.e. an approach which builds local motivation and confidence and does not initiate action through external influence and control, or offer external solutions or subsidies. This can often prove harder than it sounds.


In some contexts latrine construction is very difficult, such as in flood prone areas or where the water table is very high in which case pit latrines often fill with water and collapse. Furthermore in urban areas there are other challenges, such as lack of available space for latrine construction, and low motivation to invest in this activity when populations can be evicted from the land as short notice. In these cases, the involvement of urban authorities is needed to secure tenure. Success is also somewhat dependent on compact communities, as the observation that flies know no boundaries is stronger where households are close together than where they are spread apart. 


Where householders hear about the availability of hardware subsidy the tendency is for people to choose to wait for it to come to them. This has been the case in parts of Bangladesh where the government continues to offer hardware subsidy to the poorest. CLTS processes have been undermined by the expectation that government will provide without any community effort, which is rarely the case in reality. 


In brief, this document has outlined are the advantages of CLTS as an entry point for community based livelihoods activities. Experience beyond Bangladesh is growing, as the approach is taken up in India, Mongolia, Indonesia amongst other countries. In some cases CLTS interventions address the sanitation issue only and do not encourage community members to pursue other livelihoods goals. However, in other cases this is encouraged or communities feel empowered to



For further details on CLTS please refer to: Kamal Kar (2003) Subsidy or Self-respect? Participatory Total Community Sanitation in Bangladesh, IDS Working Paper 184  

[1] Participatory Rural Appraisal (e.g. transect walks, resource mapping, prioritisation matrix, institutional mapping, time lines, etc)

Comment by Arif Khalil on April 9, 2012 at 11:09pm

It was good analysis of narrow goal under pitfall 1, it would had been good to analyse the broader objective too.

Comment by Rey T on April 9, 2012 at 7:22pm

Great tips & great resources. Thanks.

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