STAGE 3. Defining the population and objectives

What steps should be completed?

Step 2: Formulate the objectives


It is advisable to bear in mind the following characteristics when formulating objectives:

Relevant. The needs assessment will reveal which intervention objectives are relevant. If the objectives of an intervention are irrelevant to the area and the population (target and/or intermediary), it will difficult to achieve them as they will probably be rejected and opposed by the population. Relevance of the objectives is also determined by their alignment with national and/or regional or local (depending on the scope) drug demand reduction policies and strategies.

Realistic. Consider the resources and time available to carry out the project, as this will give a more realistic picture when you formulate the objectives.

Informative. Ideally, any objective should answer the questions, “What?” (what results are expected), “Who?” (the population that will be altered and which is the target of the project) and “Where?” (the region or location). Whenever possible, “How much?” (the level of change expected) and “When?” (the period of time in which it is expected to be achieved) should also be specified. It helps if estimates of the scale and time taken to change are evidence-based references (or agreed by experts) rather than well-intentioned but untested personal views.

Precise. An objective is precise when contains informs about what it wants to achieve, in a formal, clear and concise way. To achieve precision, objectives can be formulated using verbs in the infinitive to indicate actions that imply change (for example, increase, reduce, improve).

Brief. The purpose of an objective is not to justify the intervention. The justification is based on the needs assessment and the feasibility analysis. The purpose of an objective is to guide intervention procedures to change a situation, so the wording of the objective must be brief and contain the required information in the most concise form possible.

Measurable. Objectives must be formulated so that they can be measured, so they usually express change in the situation that is to be improved. Objectives are directly related to the assessment indicators and, although these are defined in later stages of the planning process, at this time it is useful to keep them in mind so that the objectives can be measured. To make a realistic estimate of the change sought, it is important to consider the resources, the time allocated to the intervention and measurement of the objectives (indicators, assessment tools, information sources, etc.).

Please consult the following link for more information on formulating objectives. See