Analyzing the Problem Using Problems Tree

Through numerous practical experiences in writing project proposals, we recommend using the problem tree because it helps in analyzing problems in a logical and simplified way, as well as, facilitates making a logical draft of all subsequent stages of the project.

Problem Analysis

Problem Tree: : is a model that comes from analyzing the problem in the form of a tree, starting from roots to fruits. When drawing the tree, we should bear in mind the next points:

Part What it represents
Tree stalk Main problem 
Main roots Groups responsible of the problem and affecting it ( service providers, protection committees, local authority, community)
Secondary roots Direct main reasons that led to the problem
Tree branches The initial impact on groups responsible of the problem who affect the problem
Tree leaves Damage suffered by people or a group of them because of the effects of the groups responsible of the problem
Tree fruits  What can damage leave on the targeted community as a whole

Problem tree and using it to clarify problem analysis way

Using a problem tree helps to identify the problems of the targeted groups as well as the needs of the targeted community. If the problem tree is done correctly, it will help the writer of the proposal to understand the logical sequence of the project and write the theory of change or the logical frame easily with greater confidence.

figure of the problems tree
Problem tree and its sections

When analyzing the problem tree quickly, especially for beginners in proposal writing, the analysis can lead them to side issues, which are not directly connected to the main problem and result in adopting inapplicable and illogical activities that will not solve the problem and will not get the desired results by the end of the project.

Therefore, we have to focus on the direct causes that led to the problem and not to go after the indirect causes, which are usually immeasurable and unspecific. Also, we should not confuse between damages and impacts of the problem (tree branches and fruits) and the causes that led to it (tree roots). When analyzing the causes of the problem, we have to concentrate on the direct causes first then we can move to the indirect causes.

Collect information about the problems:
We usually need reliable and clear sources of information and references for the following;

⦁ Proving that these needs and problems are real that targeted groups suffer from.
⦁ Reminding the donor that he has a commitment to contribute to finding solutions for these problems.
⦁ Assure government agencies that project activities will contribute to achieving these agencies’ plans, policies, strategies and laws.

These sources should be used when analyzing problems; when writing the analysis we have to write the problem in a specific, clear, realistic and measurable way within a specific time. These sources can be primary or secondary.


Primary sources:

⦁ Conducting need assessment in the targeted area is done by the organization itself. This is the strongest way to prove that there are problems in the targeted community; there, we can identify the beneficiaries’ needs in a specific, measurable and realistic way, as well as prove that currently targeted groups suffer from this problem. The organization should not ignore collecting information on the problems and needs of all categories (men, women, boys, girls, IDPs, refugees, marginalized, people with special needs) by focus group discussions with each group. Then, data is analyzed and written in a report called “needs assessment report”. In case of natural disasters or wars, organizations collect information by using ready-made models, which were agreed upon by most active actors and called: Multi-cluster Initial Rapid Assessment (MIRA).

Secondary sources:
The most important secondary sources we can use to conduct needs assessment and problem analysis are:

⦁ Studies, surveys, researches and assessments conducted by other organizations in the same or nearby area, or counting on reports and publications issued by reliable local and international bodies like UNICEF periodic status reports or the Population Movements report issued by the working group assigned to monitor population movements run and funded by UNHCR… etc..
⦁ International conventions, charters, treaties, resolutions and declarations issued by recognized international institutions like the Universal declaration of Human Rights, Convention on the Rights of the Child, UN Security Council Resolution 1325: Youth, Security and Peace, the Humanitarian Charter for relief and others.
⦁ Laws, legislations and regulations issued by the country in which the project will be implemented like Free Education Act, Safe Motherhood Act and Local Authority Act.
⦁ Strategic plans or programs issued by concerned government agencies with the project like the Government Five-Year plan and the National Food Security Strategy.

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