Problems Tree

Through the many practical experiences in writing project proposals, we recommend that everyone use the problem tree before carrying out the needs assessment because it helps to analyze the problems in a logical and simplified way as well as facilitate access to logical formulation for all subsequent stages of the project.

This is because analysis of problems using the problem tree helps in identifying the problems of the target groups and direct beneficiaries as well as in clarifying the needs of the target community. When the method of analysis using the problem tree is done correctly. The grant writer can then understand the logical sequence of the project and formulate the theory of change or logical framework with greater ease and confidence.

When analyzing the problem tree quickly, especially for beginners in grant writing, analysis can lead to side issues that are not directly related to the main problem and lead to the adoption of illogical and inapplicable activities that do not address the problem and do not reach the results that are supposed to be achieved by the end of the project.

We must therefore focus on the immediate causes that have led to this problem and not be driven by indirect causes, which are usually not measurable and unspecified.

- Do not mix between harms on beneficiaries and the effects of this problem on target groups (tree branches and fruits) and the reasons that led to them (roots).

- When analyzing the causes of the problem, we must focus on the direct causes first and then we can move for indirect reasons.

Writing the needs assessment paragraph

Usually the donor needs specific pages for the proposal as a whole or specifies the number of characters or words. The needs assessment paragraph is formulated in narrative form, often not more than half a page to A4 page, and we focus on the following points, which are reflected from the problem tree.

  • Describe the problem, its size and geographical scope.
  • Who are the parties involved? Such as service providers, local authorities, community leaders, local organizations, relevant authorities or institutions.
  • What are the main direct causes of the problem?
  • What are the effects of the problem?
  • What are the damages/harms suffered by the direct beneficiaries (women - men - girls - children - disabled - special needs - displaced - refugees - marginalized)?

What are the impact of the problem on society as a whole?

During writing this paragraph in the proposals, we must take into account the following:

- Writing the name of the evaluation or reference to which information was obtained about the problems and needs with the date issued in short with the mention of the agency that carried out this assessment or study.

- Needs or problems should be written for each affected group. For example, we should mention the needs of boys separately from the needs of girls; and the needs of women separately from those of men. In the case of availability of information about people with special needs, marginalized or displaced persons or refugees, mention these needs separately for each group.

- The problems listed should be solvable, so, do not show the donor that the problem or need is much greater than their capacity to respond to them through the activities we plan on the project and the proposed budget. This means that we expand or limit the problems and needs at a geographical area and the number of beneficiaries in line with the funding ceiling expected to be obtained if the proposal wins the funding round.

- We should not mention the causes and the indirect reasons that have indirect relationship with the problem and instead we should focus on the direct causes that will be addressed through the planned activities.. This means that we review the needs assessment paragraph after the completion of the activities to ensure that there is a logical relationship between the direct causes mentioned in this paragraph and the activities and interventions that we set out in the work plan and the logical framework.

- The immediate causes as well as the results and impacts of this problem should be listed to make the picture fully clear and prepare the donor to anticipate the proposed activities and interventions that will contribute to addressing this problem in the target area.