Data Analysis: Tree Diagrams Tree diagrams are versatile and visual tools identifying and prioritising problems, objectives or decisions. Information is organised into a tree-like diagram. The main issue is represented by the tree's trunk, and the relevant factors, influences and outcomes show up as systems of roots and branches. In a project context, tree diagrams can be used to guide design and evaluation systems. As a community participation exercise, tree diagrams can help people to uncover and analyse the underlying causes of a particular problem or to rank and measure objectives in relation to one another. Tree diagrams are often part of participatory planning methods, for example in stakeholder workshops, Logical Framework Analysis or in ZOPP, and in participatory inquiry such as Participatory Rural Appraisal. The Cause-and-Effect Analysis The Cause-and-Effect Diagram is a method of identifying the different factors which cause a particular problem. The fish-bone diagram, as it is also known, links a problem to the inputs, methods and processes which contribute to that problem, while ignoring parts of the system which have no bearing on the particular aspect. The problem is placed at the head of the fish and the causes feed into its spine along its ribs (see figure following the text). This analysis will be based on a text taken from a brochure titled: ‘Child Labour in Nepal: Facts and Figures’, produced by the Centre for Women/Children and Community Development with the support of UNICEF (Nepal). Please note that we are using this situation to highlight different ways of analysing and presenting data. We are not suggesting any solutions to such a complex and wide-ranging issue. Extract from ‘Child Labour in Nepal: Facts and Figures’ (1998) 4. What factors lead to widespread child labour? Poverty: The basic necessities - food, shelter and clothing, combined with other factors such as unemployment or underemployment among adult family members, or death of the breadwinner compel children to contribute economically. High dependence on agriculture, declining productivity, increasing landlessness, land fragmentation, etc., also demand additional inputs from children in the families. Illiteracy: A high level of illiteracy, among parents in general and mothers in particular, has also been identified as one of the principal reasons behind young children working inside and outside the house. Parents of working children often do not know the long-term benefits of educating their children, and might face economic problems related to enrolling their children in school. (continues) Deception: Sometimes children from rural areas are brought to cities by middlemen to work in factories. Employers often look for children as labourers because they are cheap, easy to control and their performance compares favourably with adults. Moreover, they are not able to bargain for more wages or facilities. Unbalanced development of the country: Urban-biased and unbalanced socio-economic development of the country has encouraged children to migrate to places where jobs are available. Therefore, urban areas have a high concentration of child labour. Weak enforcement of laws relating to child labour: The provisions of the Children Act, 1992, do not cover informal sectors where most children work. There is a contradiction between the legal and constitutional provisions prohibiting child labour and the real situation. Furthermore, the ineffectiveness of law combines with a lack of political commitment towards implementing those laws to allow child labour to persist in its present state. Although some causes will be beyond any organisation’s ability to influence, the analysis could suggest activities such as: Lobbying the government for reform of laws relating to child labour Poverty reduction programmes (for example micro-finance) in areas where trafficking in child labourers is high Literacy programmes to mothers Again, we stress that these are not ‘easy solutions’: we are just trying to demonstrate how the cause and effect analysis can be used to present data and direct our actions. Other kinds of trees are: A decision tree can show the costs and benefits of decisions, for example regarding options for a project evaluation system. A problem or problem-cause tree shows dependent and independent factors that affect a particular problem. It can be used to identify the underlying causes of complex problems. An objectives tree can be used to decide between priority needs and less significant needs. It is a good idea to make your objectives tree after the problem tree, by rephrasing the problems (negatives) as positive outcomes. The materials needed are a surface on which to draw (newsprint, paper, chalkboard or the ground) and markers, pens or chalk. The simplicity of organising the exercise and its emphasis on visualisation and discussion make it easy to use across cultures in both rural and urban settings. As a problem tree, the information would look like this: Steps towards Creating a Participatory Problem Tree General Stages Brainstorming: Each member of the contributes one or more problems drawn from personal experience Clustering the problems identified during the brainstorming Identifying the cause of each problem Identifying the consequences if the problem was not solved. Creating a Problem Tree for Community Issues 1. Participants briefly review the major problem orally. 2. A tree trunk is drawn and a word or a symbol that notes the problem is drawn into the trunk. 3. Branches and leaves are drawn (by the facilitator or, preferably by a participant) in several directions. 4. Participants suggest different dimensions of the problem, and each branch is used to represent a separate dimension. 5. A root system, symbolising the causes of the problem, is drawn under the tree. 6. The group suggests possible causes of the problem; each root is marked with a picture or a phrase that represents a cause. 7. Once the tree is completed, participants discuss the causes, deciding how much each one affects the major problem. For example, a cause may be major or minor, one-time or permanent. A well-defined problem tree can be a useful place to start an objectives tree. Eliminating the root causes on a problem tree can become the branches of an objectives tree.
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