The Problem Tree

When you are first thinking about a project, it is a good idea to use a problem tree. This allows you to work out the likely causes and consequences of your project or programme. It can be very useful for establishing the activities of your project and can feed effectively into your proposed logical framework.

A simplified version of the problem tree, drawing on an example from
Tools4dev is given below.

As Tools4dev has shown, you can reverse the order of this problem tree and use it to fill in your logical framework. To illustrate, you turn the problem into a goal (teenager finishing school), identify objectives to tackle the causes (encourage parents to recognise the importance of school) and turn the negative effect into a positive effect (higher future earnings)

A similar approach is suggested below with this example drawn from the health sector.

Going Further

For excellent advice on how to use the problem tree, see Tools4dev, FAO and ODI.

Think About

Can you identify the following:

  • your goal
  • some possible objectives
  • the longer-term impact of your project
  • the indicators you might use to measure any progress you make.

Now you can start think about the activities you may have to undertake. Can you go further and identify any intermediate outcomes (short to medium term changes that fall short of your overall goal/ desired impact)?

Click here to return to the top of the page and here to go on to explore another planning tool, the change pathway.