Study Unit 2: The Project Cycle In the previous unit, we learnt the difference between projects and programmes. We learnt that the main difference is that a programme can be very broad and comprising a number of projects. For example, a community could have a health improvement programme. Projects to support this programme could include building toilets and erecting boreholes for clean water.
Projects have a start and an end date. Still within the same programme, after building toilets and erecting boreholes, more projects such as building a clinic and establishing a vegetable garden etc etc could be introduced. So in short, a programme can be there for a very long period of time or even on a permanent basis, but projects can come and go (start and finish). This unit focuses on projects. Let us use an example of a clinic. There are so many stages or things that need to happen for a clinic to be there. For example, there is a need to identify the necessity of having a clinic in a community. Once this need is picked up, there is a need to adopt a decision to have a clinic built for that particular community.
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Then the preparatory work such as identifying a suitable site, drawing of plans, sourcing funds etc etc will then follow. This is then followed by the actual building of the clinic i.e. the construction phase.
Once the clinic is built, it has to be handed over for use. Monitoring and evaluation of various issues will then follow. For example an assessment of the usage of the clinic might have to be done and in the long term assess the impact of the clinic to the community.
So in a nutshell, these phases that we have highlighted for the clinic are what is called a project cycle. This is called a cycle because information from the monitoring and evaluation phase is used to take new decision about the clinic e.g. extending it.
So once a decision to extend the clinic into a hospital is taken, all the other stages mentioned above will then follow until the monitoring and evaluation stage, which leads to other and more new decisions about the clinic being taken, and the cycle goes on and on. So this is what this Unit is all about, but it brings various perspectives of the stages of a project and the sequences of these stages. Please read the unit carefully and understand the various perspectives by various scholars.