How to identify and outline Issues and Problems in a Youth Advocacy Project?

Once we have learned the significance of youths in carrying out advocacy campaigns and understanding the concept of ‘advocacy’, we now move on to developing the actual project for youth advocacy.

The first step in planning out the youth advocacy project is to identify the problems and issues for which you would like to implement your project.

As you look around in your project area, start by first noting down all problems and issues. For example, you may notice that there is a widespread problem of youth unemployment within your community. Now if you ask the question to yourself as to why there is so much youth employment, you can get answers from yourself or from some basic community research.

You will come to know that it could because of poor education and low skills of the youths or lack of businesses in the area because of which the youth are not able to get appropriate jobs or a complete absence of government-supported schemes to encourage youth training and skill-building.

When you analyze a problem and try to find its causes, this is often referred to as the ’cause-and-effect’ relationship. This is an important process that helps in removing the confusion about what the problem is and what are its effects.

This relationship is usually explored through a tool called ‘Problem Tree.’ In the ‘Problem Tree,’ you draw a picture of the tree and list out the causes of the problems as the roots of the tree, the problems as the trunk of the tree and the branches and leaves are the effects of the problem.

According to the UNICEF Advocacy Toolkit,

“A ‘problem and solution tree’ is a particularly useful tool for conducting a situation analysis because it offers a visual structure to analyse the problem and solution. The problem tree will help advocates understand the immediate, underlying and root causes of the issue, as well as help in gathering information to support the analysis. The solution tree then provides a visual structure of the solutions and how they can affect change.”

According to Sport for Development and Peace Youth Advocacy Toolkit,

“A ‘problem tree’ is a visual brainstorming tool that allows you to understand key information about a problem by organising it into causes and effects:

How to identify and outline Issues and Problems in a Youth Advocacy Project?


A cause (located at the roots of the tree) could be any reason why a problem is occurring. There are many different types of causes, some of which will be clear, while others could take time and even additional research to uncover.

An effect (located on the branches of the tree) describes what the future of a problem will be if it remains unsolved. A good way to brainstorm effects is to link them to individual causes.

Once your ‘problem tree’ diagram is ready, you will realize how easy it is to pinpoint the issues you need to address. You will now know exactly what problems you can address.

For instance, if your ‘problem tree’ has identified that the mass youth employment is due to poor implementation of government-supported youth training and skill development programmes, then you can develop a plan to build a youth advocacy campaign to lobby with the government to improve its performance.