Developing a problem tree

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An overview of how to undertake a problem tree analysis as part of the formative evaluation of a project's design. This is taken from the Evaluation Toolbox www.evaluationtoolbox.net.au

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Developing a problem tree

  1. 1. Developing Problem Tree & Solution Tree
  2. 2. www.evaluationtoolbox.net.au
  3. 3. What is a Problem Tree?A problem tree provides an overview of all theknown causes and effects to an identifiedproblem.
  4. 4. Why do a Problem TreeThere are often more than one cause to aproblem, and you may not be able toovercome them all, so it is important to knowif this will impact your project.A problem tree identifies the context in whichan intervention is to occur, and starts to revealthe complexity of life.
  5. 5. The ProcessA problem tree is best completed with theproject proponent and other stakeholderspresent.You may need anything from a couple ofhours, to half a day or more depending on thecomplexity of your problem and the diversityof stakeholders present.
  6. 6. Steps to undertaking a problem tree 1. Settle on the core problem 2. Identify the causes and effects 3. Develop a solution tree 4. Select the preferred intervention
  7. 7. What does a Problem Tree look like?
  8. 8. The Core ProblemA project should have a specific problem (eg.saving water inside the home) that it seeks toovercome if change is to occur.A vague or broad problem (eg. saving water)will have too many causes for an effective andmeaningful project to be developed.
  9. 9. 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 beOUTPUTS written in negative terms.Financial incentivesprovided tohouseholds direct effects of the problem are placed The above the core problem.
  10. 10. 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, asOUTPUTSFinancial incentives you decide whether they are aprovided to primary, secondary or other cause.households
  11. 11. Lets look at an example
  12. 12. Projectdesigns donot considerthe fullcontext. There are not enough An example of a core problem problem trees conducted.
  13. 13. There are not enough An example of a core problem problem trees conducted.People do not People doknow what a not know Lets look at someproblem tree how to do a causes…is. problem tree.
  14. 14. There are not enough An example of a core problem problem trees conducted.People do not People doknow what a not know Lets look at someproblem tree how to do a causes…is. problem tree. There are Resources no easily are too hard accessible to resources. understand.
  15. 15. Project designs do not consider And now the effects the full context. There are not enough An example of a core problem problem trees conducted.People do not People doknow what a not know Lets look at someproblem tree how to do a causes…is. problem tree. There are Resources no easily are too hard accessible to resources. understand.
  16. 16. An example of a completed problem tree
  17. 17. 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 meansOUTPUTSFinancial incentives such as “increased knowledge”. The objectivesprovided tohouseholds demonstrates the means-end relationship tree between objectives.
  18. 18. An example of a completed solution tree
  19. 19. Select the preferred interventionThis step is designed to allow the project teamto select and focus an intervention on apreferred strategy.The solution tree may present a number ofseparate or linked interventions to solve aproblem. Depending on projectfunding, time, and relevance, a plannedintervention may not be able to tackle all thecauses.
  20. 20. An example of selecting a preferred intervention
  21. 21. Select the preferred interventionIf all the causes cannot be overcome by aproject, or complementary projects, it isimportant to identify if any of the branchesare more influential than others in solving aproblem. This may impact on the success ofyour project.You can also consider the impact of otherbranches in your monitoring and evaluation.
  22. 22. Using the solution tree to inform your project design The effects become your Effects Effects intermediate and long Effects Effects term outcomes Core The core can become your project goal or Cause Cause immediate outcome Cause Cause The causes/solutionsCause Cause become your activities and objectives
  23. 23. Next StepNow that you have a problem/solutiontree, you can go on to develop a LogFramematrix, or a Program Logic.
  24. 24. www.evaluationtoolbox.net.au

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