What can a flow diagram be used for?
- To improve
people's understanding of the causes and effects of their problems
as well as to identify possible solutions.
- To deepen analysis
of the main problems in a village/community by revealing how
problems, causes and effects are linked to each other and which
solutions might be possible.
- To show which problems have
solutions that can be implemented by the village/community, which
problems require external assistance to be resolved and which seem
to have no solution at all, such as natural disasters.
Questions that could be answered:
- What are the main
causes and effects of a key problem?
- How are these causes and
- Where could one start to tackle the key
How to facilitate a flow diagram:
1. Introduce the
objectives of the tool and point out that it deals with three
different levels (central problem, causes for the problem, effects
of the problem). Explain that it can be used additionally for
identifying possible solutions.
2. Make sure that everyone
understands the difference between causes, effects and solutions
3. Proceed step by step (first causes, second effects, third
solutions), otherwise it becomes too complicated analyzing a complex
4. Take only one priority problem (as identified by
pairwise ranking or by other ranking tools) and put it in the middle
of a brown sheet of paper or on the ground.
5. Start collecting
and identifying the causes for this problem.
6. Write them on
cards so that your are able to move them on the ground or on the
7. Support the group to identify the effects of the
central problem and also write them on cards.
8. Link the causes
and effects with arrows: arrows lead from causes to the central
problem and from the central problem to the effects. Some effects
are also causes - link them by double arrows ( <-> ).
Ask the group to think about possible solutions and how they might
influence which causes (also effects) of the main problem.
Ask the group to differentiate between solutions that can be
implemented by the respective village/community and solutions that
need external support.
At least 1 to 1 .5 hours
Sandy ground (or a big sheet of paper), cards,
- It is easier to divide between causes and effects if you
put the causes above the problem and the effects below the problem.
- It is advisable to introduce a flow diagram directly after
having done a ranking in order to build up on the elaborated results
by going deeper into analysis.
To see some examples see references.
Source: Berg, C./Beck, C./Beckmann, G./Chimbala, C./Erko,
C./Fleig, A./Kuhlmann, M./Pander, H. (1997): Introduction of a
Participatory and Integrated Develpment Process (PIDEP) in Kalomo
District, Zambia - Volume II - Manual for Trainers and Users of
PIDEP. Centre for Advanced Training in Agricultural and Rural
Development, Humboldt University Berlin (Editor). Weikersheim: