2 What is a Problem Tree?A problem tree provides an overview of all the known causes and effects to an identified problem.
3 Why do a Problem TreeThere are often more than one cause to a problem, and you may not be able to overcome them all, so it is important to know if this will impact your project.A problem tree identifies the context in which an intervention is to occur, and starts to reveal the complexity of life.
4 The ProcessA problem tree is best completed with the project proponent and other stakeholders present. You may need anything from a couple of hours, to half a day or more depending on the complexity of your problem and the diversity of stakeholders present.
5 Steps to undertaking a problem tree Settle on the core problemIdentify the causes and effectsDevelop a solution treeSelect the preferred intervention
7 The Core ProblemA project should have a specific problem (eg. saving water inside the home) that it seeks to overcome if change is to occur. A vague or broad problem (eg. saving water) will have too many causes for an effective and meaningful project to be developed.
8 Identifying the causes and effects The core problem is placed at the centre of the tree. You then need to consider the direct causes to the problem. These are placed below the core problem. Each cause statement needs to be written in negative terms. The direct effects of the problem are placed above the core problem.OUTPUTSFinancial incentives provided to households
9 Identifying the causes and effects You then need to consider the causes to the immediate causes- these are called secondary causes, and so on. You can do the same for the effects. You will likely need to move causes around, as you decide whether they are a primary, secondary or other cause.OUTPUTSFinancial incentives provided to households
11 An example of a core problem Project designs do not consider the full context.And now the effectsThere are not enough problem trees conducted.An example of a core problemPeople do not know how to do a problem tree.People do not know what a problem tree is.Lets look at some causes…There are no easily accessible resources.Resources are too hard to understand.
13 Develop a solution tree A solution (also called objectives) tree is developed by reversing the negative statements that form the problem tree into positive ones. For example, a cause (problem tree) such as “lack of knowledge” would become a means such as “increased knowledge”. The objectives tree demonstrates the means-end relationship between objectives.OUTPUTSFinancial incentives provided to households
15 Select the preferred intervention This step is designed to allow the project team to select and focus an intervention on a preferred strategy. The solution tree may present a number of separate or linked interventions to solve a problem. Depending on project funding, time, and relevance, a planned intervention may not be able to tackle all the causes.
16 An example of selecting a preferred intervention
17 Select the preferred intervention If all the causes cannot be overcome by a project, or complementary projects, it is important to identify if any of the branches are more influential than others in solving a problem. This may impact on the success of your project. You can also consider the impact of other branches in your monitoring and evaluation.
18 Using the solution tree to inform your project design The effects become your intermediate and long term outcomesEffectsEffectsEffectsEffectsCoreThe core can become your project goal or immediate outcomeCauseCauseCauseCauseThe causes/solutions become your activities and objectivesCauseCause
19 Next StepNow that you have a problem/solution tree, you can go on to develop a LogFrame matrix, or a Program Logic.How to guides for the logframe and program logic can be found on the online toolbox