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What is a project objective?

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The project objective describes the project’s outcomes: intended and direct, short- and medium-term effects on the target group. The project objective must lie within the scope of the project, and one must be able to directly attribute the effects to the project. The project objective is often formulated in terms of the project’s utility for the target group: “Better… higher…” It also makes sense to formulate the project objective as a situation to be achieved in the future.

The project objective ought also to describe an outcome, meaning the effect or change that the project is supposed to cause for the target group. In practice it is often not quite so simple to distinguish outcomes from outputs, i.e. the project’s products and deliverables. Well-formulated, genuine outcome (and impact) objectives are therefore of great importance if the outcome and impact assessment is to have any significance.

A well-formulated project objective

  • Provides a concrete description of the project’s effect at the outcome level;
  • Was developed in a participatory process;
  • Is accepted by the target group and other stakeholders;
  • Is clear and concise.

Do not simply summarise the outputs, but describe the effects that should be triggered at a higher level.
Distinguish clearly between objectives and indicators. There are various ways to distinguish between objectives and indicators. However, individual variants should not be mixed up.


  • Child health programme
    Improvements are made in the health of children in the poorest parts of the country.
  • Health course project
    Young mothers in regions x, y and z should use clean drinking water more often or boil dirty water.
  • Well-building project
    The population of regions x, y and z should have better access to clean drinking water.
  • Medical care project
    Children suffering from diarrhoea in regions x, y and z should be able to be treated successfully.
  • Education programme
    The communities have better access to formal and informal education.
  • Empowerment project
    Socially and economically disadvantaged people influence decision-making in the region.
  • Project to support farmers’ organisations
    The farmers’ organisations improve their institutional and organisational capacities.
    The farmers’ organisations improve the management of their business activities.

In practice, there are objectives for local partner organisations as well. It can be useful for a development agency that has no direct contact to the target groups to concentrate on this level. However, this is not the subject of the impact assessment as discussed in these guidelines.