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UNIT 5: Bringing together all the elements


You are now ready to move on to the next stage of development planning: synthesising and analysing the information you have collected. You will create an overview of the problems and opportunities at the landing site and focus your area of work.

This unit is based on the approach used by Conservation International (Kristensen & Rader, 2001), combined with the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach framework (Carney, 1998) and the FAO/Regional Community Forestry Training Centre training package on community-based forest resource conflict management (FAO, 2002).


You have now collected what is probably an overwhelming amount of information about the landing site, its user groups, its activities, inputs, outputs, problems and opportunities. In this exercise, you will synthesize and analyse the current state of affairs at the landing site using a situation analysis. This technique uses the following tools:

In applying each tool, you and the working group will need to decide who and what to focus on and what to leave out.

You will need a fixed place to work. Turn one of the walls into a planning board to organize your thoughts and to visualise the progress being made. Make sure this wall is available for the duration of this planning process so that you can leave the information on the wall and continue to expand it.

Assessing internal strengths and weaknesses

You are going to analyse the information you have so that it will serve as a basis for further planning by the working group. The analysis will give you an overview of the landing site, its strengths, its weaknesses, and its problems. You will analyse and summarize the internal aspects of the landing site, namely the stakeholders and their assets or resources (natural, physical, financial, human and social).

Who should participate

You will be working with the working group. Where information is missing, you will have to depend upon their input. At the end of the unit, you check the results at a feedback meeting with landing site users.

Key terms

An alternative is one of a number of possible solutions that could be used to reduce one, some, or all of the problems in achieving the result you want.

Assets (financial, human, natural, physical, social) are characteristics, possessions, or rights of access or use that help people to secure their livelihoods and react to unexpected events and set-backs.

In a cause-effect analysis, you determine the factors that lead to the existence of a certain problem (its causes), as well as the situations that the problem gives rise to (its effects).

A constraint is an event, situation or condition that prevents a particular problem from being solved or a livelihood aim from being achieved. A constraint is beyond the control of the stakeholders.

An opportunity is a current or future event, situation or condition that will help reduce or eliminate a particular problem. An opportunity is external to the control of the stakeholders.

Pair-wise ranking is a method of prioritizing options by comparing pairs of alternatives, adding up the number of times each is selected, and arranging them sequential order.

For the purpose of the last units of the manual, problems are defined very specifically as things that prevent you from attaining the results that you wish to achieve. This means that difficulties not related to the results you wish to achieve will not be considered from this point on.

A problem tree is a systematic analysis of the interrelations between problems, represented in a drawing or schema. As each problem gives rise to other problems, the drawing branches out, so that the result looks like a tree.

Ranking by voting or buying is a way to prioritize alternatives by voting. In the case of buying, every participant receives three to five stones (or other tokens) to "buy" the alternatives they prefer.

A situation analysis is an analysis of stakeholders, problems, strengths and weaknesses, threats and opportunities, in order to get a comprehensive understanding of the current state of affairs at the selected landing site.

Social characteristics describe stakeholders according to criteria such as gender, age, ethnic background, religion, roles played in the community, employment or level of income.

Strengths are the characteristics and assets that people possess or have access to in order to overcome difficulties or to help them achieve their livelihood aims.

Threats are possible future events, situations or conditions beyond the control of stakeholders, which could undermine or destroy the achievements, aims and livelihood outcomes that stakeholders are working to achieve.

Weaknesses refer to certain characteristics in people, such as having few or no assets, which make it more complicated or impossible to achieve their livelihood aims.

Steps to take

1. This is the time to organize all the information you have collected so far and make sure it is complete. Start by making sure it is separated correctly into the different exercises (census, institutional diagrams, maps, chains, history, and calendars). Include notes taken. Check to make sure diagrams, maps and matrices are clear and complete, and decide whether they need to be combined or reorganized.

If you do not have all the information necessary to complete the matrix below, do not worry; concentrate on using the information you have. You will be presenting the results to the landing site users, and they will be able to fill you in on anything that is missing.

2. Summarize the main stakeholders at the landing site on one sheet of paper. Take a look at the information from the landing site census including the matrix of the numbers of landing site users, the amount of fishing equipment and materials and the number of processing units. Go through the fisheries production chains to see if any stakeholder groups are identified but do not appear in the census.

3. Wherever possible, add a description of social characteristics of the stakeholders. Social characteristics include roles, employment, gender, age, ethnic background, religion or income level. Describe the characteristics that make people in one group similar to another and those that distinguish one group from another.

You may find that you end up with subgroups of stakeholders. For example, among the fish processors, certain women using a particular processing method will be from a certain ethnic group. Or you may have "fish processors and traders" as a stakeholder group, but you may need to distinguish between more or less prosperous groups.

Take note of the details, making sure not to step out of the bounds of cultural acceptability. Be as specific as possible; the more clearly you define the stakeholder groups, the easier it will be to formulate their needs and the project objectives later on.

4. Based on the information you now see before you, decide on four priority stakeholder groups to focus on in the next units. These are the groups for which you will develop projects. You and/or the working group may be able to address additional groups in a second round of strategy development later on.

5. Prepare a large table with five columns and ten rows. Leave one column blank at the moment; you will be filling this in with certain aspects of your choosing. At the top of the other four, write the name of the stakeholder groups you have chosen to work with. Label the rows as in Table 10.

6. In the first row, describe the social characteristics of the group; in the next row include the number of people. In the following row, write the activities that each of the four stakeholder groups undertake for their livelihoods, that is: to earn a living, maintain their family and social relations, and any community-related activities. Refer to the seasonal calendars and fisheries productions chains as your main sources of information.

7. Now turn to the resource maps, the seasonal calendars and the fishing chain. From these exercises, summarize the natural resources (or assets) that the four groups use throughout the year. This can include anything from fields, forests and trees, to river water, fish, and wild animals. Write these in the next row.

Wherever possible, indicate:

8. Next, look at the physical assets that the groups use at the landing site:

Write this in the next row. You will find most of the information you need from the fisheries production chains, where you asked for "inputs". Wherever possible, add who are the user groups, who owns the assets and who manages them. If you have any information on non-fisheries related activities from the seasonal calendar, include this also.

9. The following row will show the financial assets of the stakeholders including:

You can find or deduce most of this information from the fisheries production chains and the seasonal calendars. Include all forms of savings and credit, whether from an agricultural development bank, or from a local savings and credit group. Remember that in some places, jewellery or livestock may serve as a kind of savings account. For income and expenditures, include both fisheries and non-fisheries activities, as one may influence the other.

10. The seventh row concerns human assets, consisting of stakeholders’ training, skills and knowledge. Although you have not specifically asked about this, you can infer much of this information from:

Look for evidence for each in the fisheries production transects, the seasonal calendars, and perhaps the population census. Put the results into the table.

11. The last group of assets you need to summarize in the table are social assets. Social assets are relationships, social groups, professional groups and support mechanisms that the stakeholder groups are a part of, contribute to, and depend on in times of need. Involvement in these groups may influence decision-making regarding access to resources or distribution of benefits between stakeholders. They may include anything from a village fisheries council to a youth group, a cooperative, a village festival committee or a funeral group. Use the institutional diagrams you made as your main source of information. Write the name and type of group, its main activities, and its costs and benefits to members.

12. The last two rows should show the strengths and weaknesses that each stakeholder group encounters in securing or improving their livelihoods and/or the landing site. Strengths are assets stakeholders can use to secure and improve their livelihoods (as you described in step 2). Weaknesses are assets that may be lacking or problems, events or situations that prevent people from improving their livelihoods. Look for information in the assets table you just made. If necessary, also refer to the seasonal calendar and fisheries production chains.

13. As a last step for this exercise, you use the table you have just made to choose three problems to focus on. It is most useful to choose a common problem or a group of similar problems that several of the stakeholders face. Eliminate doubles. If two ideas are very similar it may be possible to rewrite them into a single idea. (Alternatively, if the group agrees, you may wish to focus on a single stakeholder group, possibly turning to others later on. The risk is that other stakeholder groups will loose interest in the process.) In the example from Table 10, you might end up with just two problems: low income earning for retired fishers and fishmongers and safety problems for divers and fishers. Before making the choice, clarify which types of problems your agency can deal with, and which ones will require the collaboration of partners. Select at least one problem which falls into your organization’s mandate.

Example for plotting strengths and weaknesses


A - Fish mongers (retail)

B - Divers

C - Fishers

D - Retired fishers


Women of all ages

Young men between 18 and 35

Men between 18 and 45

Men over 45 or 50 years

Number of people involved






Sale of low-value fish on the streets and in the rural areas (on foot)
Sale of other goods when fish not available

Diving for lobster and high value species
Drinking with friends

Handline fishing

Handline fishing from shore
Playing dominos with friends
Mending nets
Sometimes subsistence farming

Natural assets

None directly

Lobster and fish species

Fish species

Some fish

Physical assets

Plastic containers, knives
One-room huts

Snorkel and fins
Sometimes diving equipment

Boats (rented) Lines and hooks

One-room huts

Financial assets

Some jewellery
Income on daily basis

High income from fishing


Irregular income from sale of fish

Human assets

Low literacy and numeracy
Often single mothers

Primary school education
Physically healthy

Primary school education
Physically healthy

Experience as fishers

Social assets

Some regular clients
Personal relationship with fisher/supplier of fish

Hotels as major clients
Friendships with other divers

Fisher cooperatives
Wives and female relatives sell the fish caught

Old fishing friends
Sometimes family and support
Clients for mending nets


Flexible income generating activities

Limited costs of diving, high income from collection and sale of lobster and other high value species

Organization in cooperatives

Detailed knowledge of the fishing grounds, the community and its history
Long fishing experience


Low income
Arrests as sale of goods on street is prohibited
Children uncared for when the mother is working
Often victims of violence by male companions

Risk of disability and death due to non-decompression when resurfacing from a dive
Overfishing of lobster and other high value species in the zones around the community

Accidents at sea and on the shore
No alternative income earning

Poor physical health

Assessing external threats and opportunities

This exercise is similar to the previous one, except that it focuses on the external environment that influences events and stakeholders at the landing site, yet is generally beyond the stakeholders’ control. The purpose is to summarize the trends, shocks and seasonal variations that impact the four stakeholder groups in addressing the three problems you have identified in the previous exercise. This will help you analyse threats and opportunities to landing site development, with the ultimate aim of improving livelihoods.

Who should participate

You will be working with the working group again. At the end of this exercise, invite all the landing site users to a feedback meeting (step 8) in order to keep them up-to-date and to receive their insights and approval.

Steps to take

1. You will be using the results from the institutional diagrams, the historical timeline, and the seasonal calendar, so make sure you have them on hand. Using the institutional diagram(s), make a short list of agencies or institutes that have the greatest impact on the landing site and the four user groups in relation to the three problems that you chose in the previous step. From this list, highlight the four organizations (the Fisheries Department and other government agencies, NGOs and private service providers, projects) as well as the project or activity that has had this impact.

2. Use the historical time line to summarize important sudden events that affected the three landing site problems over the past ten years or so. These may include anything from droughts and floods to changes in the value of money, political unrest and so on. Again, choose the four most important ones that have affected the four user groups.

3. Now go back to the historical time line and list more gradual changes and trends over the same time period that have affected the three problems. They may include:

Then highlight up to four of the most important gradual changes and trends that have most influenced the four stakeholder groups you have chosen to work with.

4. Now it is time to look at seasonal variations that occur every year and that influence the three problems. Take a look at the seasonal calendars, and any notes you took, and summarize:

Highlight the four most influential trends for the four stakeholders.

5. Make a table with four rows and five columns and head the columns as shown in Table 11. Put the highlighted information into the table. You now have a summary of the 16 main things that have influenced the three problems of the four user groups at the landing site.

6. Based on the summary table you just made, you are now going to analyse the opportunities and threats that these three groups face with respect to the three problems. Make a table with four rows and five columns. At the top of the columns insert the following headings:

7. Now fill in the empty spaces. In the first column, fill in the three stakeholder groups. In the second, fill in the 16 things from the table from step 5 (agencies’ projects, sudden events, trends or seasonal changes that have affected the user groups). In the third column, note the effects of trends, events or agencies’ activities on each of the three stakeholder groups for the three problems. In the fourth column, record how the user groups reacted to opportunities and threats; that is, which resources (human, social, physical, financial and natural) they used, and how, in order to deal with the opportunities and threats. Include agencies or groups that could or do help out in difficult periods and which ones landing site users turn to when wishing to exploit opportunities. In the last column write the result of the reactions of the user groups and the support or lack of support from the institutions, in terms of what improved what worsened and what had no effect at all. The final result should look something like Table 12.

21. Organize a feedback meeting in which you present the results of the internal situation from the previous exercise and the external situation from this exercise. Invite stakeholder representatives, representatives from the agencies, resource persons or experts as required. Provide an overview of:

Take time to answer any questions and to discuss the results within the working group. You may need to clarify or add information but don’t delve too far into details. You will analyse the problems in greater detail in the next step, which will make it easier to decide on how to tackle them.

Overview of projects, events, trends, and seasonal occurrences

Stakeholder group

Agency project

Sudden event

Trends and gradual changes

Seasonal occurrences

Fish mongers (retail)

NGOs literacy and numeracy programme for fishmongers has improved the management of their businesses and increased their income

Devaluation of the FCFA drastically reduced income

Widespread use of local and national radio leads to greater awareness of prices of fish and best markets, as well as information on hygiene

Malaria and other fevers in the wet season lead to irregularity of income


None to date

Legislation concerning official approval of diving gear improves quality of gear sold and less accidents

Increased availability and use of diving gear due to opening of national economy to international markets

Winds and rough waters make income earning more difficult in the rainy season


Japanese project that provided fishers with new boats and fishing gear, including life jackets

Storm in 1999 in which many fishers drowned led to the setting up of a village sea safety and emergency committee

Creation of national and local fishers cooperatives makes life jackets more easily available

Seasonal storms make fishing dangerous

Opportunities and threats and their impact on stakeholders

Stakeholder group

Project, event, trend, seasonal occurrence

Effects on the stakeholder groups

Stakeholders’ ways of coping

Final result

Fish mongers (retail)

NGO’s literacy and numeracy programme for fishmongers
Devaluation of the FCFA
Widespread use of local and national radio
Malaria and other fevers in the wet season

Improved the management of their businesses and increased their income.
Drastically reduced income
Greater awareness of prices of fish and best markets
Irregularity of income

Making simple business budgets, with income and spending
Add other products to their array of products to sell
Moving into other markets further away
Collaboration with female family members to take over in times of illness

More work than before with more products to sell, but greater flexibility and less drastic changes in income


Legislation concerning official approval of diving gear
Opening of national economy to international markets

Increased prices of officially approved diving gear
Increased availability of diving gear and use rather than free diving

Buying of unapproved and low quality or second hand gear
Increased use of diving gear rather than free diving

Better gear available for diving leads more young men to dive, but a lack of awareness of formal diving procedures leads to accidents






Conducting a cause-effect analysis

Problems rarely occur in isolation. This exercise will help find other problems at the landing site that are linked to the three main problems you have chosen. Once you understand these links and influences, it will be easier to see where the causes lie. That will help you in the next unit when you prioritize and choose which problems to tackle in the landing site development strategy, and how.

Who should participate

Work with the working group and any resource people related to the three problems you have chosen. For example, if the problem is related to health, you may wish to include health workers or traditional healers.

Steps to take

1. Make sure you have the information from your feedback session on the four user groups, their three problems, the internal opportunities and constraints that affect how they deal with those problems, and the external opportunities and threats that influence them. Make a list of related problems and arrange them in groups, as shown in Figure 4.

2. One by one, think through why the three main problems occur. Each problem may have more than one explanation. For example, people become ill because fish are cleaned on a dirty beach, the drinking-water at the landing site is contaminated, they live in unhealthy conditions or they cannot afford nutritious food. Be inspired by the analysis of internal and external constraints from the previous two exercises. Write them all down. Then look for the causes for each. (For instance the drinking-water at the landing site is contaminated because the water pipe from the municipal pipeline is broken and an open water source is being used to drink from instead.) Develop this exercise as much as you can. Make a problem tree for each main problem. An example of a problem tree is given in Figure 5.

3. You cannot tackle all the components listed in the three problem trees, so you must focus on what can reasonably be achieved. To do so, step back and take a look at the problem trees. Identify which components can be tackled by you, by the working group, by your agency, or by other agencies; circle them with a coloured pen. Be realistic and practical. Systematically go through each problem tree. Choose up to five components per tree, including at least one that your agency can deal with, one that is relatively easy to solve, and one that is a bit harder.

4. For each of the three problems, use the problem tree and the rest of your analysis to decide:

Use one card to list all the causes and one card to list all the effects. Post the causes on the left of the problem cards and the effects on the right (Figure 6). You may want to use cards of two different colours to list the causes and the effects. (If you are having problems distinguishing causes from effects and problems, have a look at the note below.)

5. Go through the cards again and try to improve the wording. Be very specific as to what you mean: why it is a problem (i.e. how it prevents stakeholders from ensuring certain needs or requirements for their livelihoods); when it occurs; how it occurs; who is affected by it and how; and who can or might be able to influence it. These details will help you choose the problem to tackle and give you valuable information on how to tackle it.

Posting problems on the planning board

Example of a problem tree


When analysing problems you may find it difficult to distinguish between causes and effects. In fact, something that is a cause of one problem may actually be an effect of another. You may also find that some of the things previously listed as problems are actually causes or effects. Indeed problems, causes and effects are related to one another.

Consider a simple rule of thumb: Problems are always related directly to the target groups, their livelihoods and the main categories of problems you initially chose. Causes are all the things that contribute to a specific problem at a certain point in time. Effects are the immediate effects of the problems.

Adding causes and effects to the planning board

Prioritizing problems

Having the support of landing site users in pursuing your strategy is key. Your intervention is likely to work best if the choice of projects is in line with their interests. This exercise gives landing site users a chance to prioritize problems, and their main components, based on the results of your analysis up until now.

Who should participate

Call a meeting with a broad range of landing site users. Invite the intervening agencies and projects. Choose a convenient time and location so that many can participate. The working group should be in charge. Assist them in preparing their presentation. Three techniques will be used: pair-wise ranking, voting and buying. If you use voting, you can work in a big group. Otherwise, it is best to work in subgroups (one for each of the four user groups).

Steps to take

1. Explain to everyone that the working group has completed its initial analysis. You now want to ask their help in prioritizing the problems and components to focus on in your development strategy (from those identified in the previous exercises). Suggest they choose manageable problems, at least one of which falls under your organization’s mandate. If these are solved, then you can always move on to more complicated problems.

2. Present your results and give landing site users the opportunity to ask questions. Once everything is clear, it is time to find out landing site users’ opinions on which problem to tackle first. The best way is through consensus. However, if the group is really large, this may be difficult. Below are three techniques that can help: pair-wise ranking, voting and buying.

3. Table 13 is an example of pair-wise ranking. The problems are listed at the top and left side of the matrix. Each open box represents a paired comparison of the alternatives listed. For each comparison, ask landing site users which of the problems is more pressing. You can do this by asking them to write their answer on a piece of paper. The pieces of paper are then collected and counted. Record how many times preference is given to each of the options. When the matrix is completed, add up the number of times each option is selected and arrange them in the appropriate order.

4. Voting can be done by raising hands or confidentially with ballots. Based on the list of problems you made in the previous exercises, ask landing site users to write the three problems or components they prefer to see tackled, in order of priority. Review each and ask landing site users to raise their hands if they chose it as their first choice, then ask how many chose it their second choice and then third choice. Repeat this for each. Write the results in a table similar to Table 14.

5. In the case of buying, every landing site user at the meeting receives three to five stones (or other tokens) to "buy" the preferred problem to tackle. By putting the stones in envelopes or boxes representing the different alternatives, landing site users decide to buy several different alternatives or to put all tokens towards one alternative.

6. Declare the outcome of the ranking, voting or "buying". Discuss it with the whole group. See whether any compromises can be made, or whether you can reach consensus on the three main problems to address. Again, consensus means that all actively support the outcome; it is a strong mechanism for gaining support for your development strategy.

7. Once a decision has been made, explain that the next step is for the working group to identify possible solutions. Thank the participants for their time and input, and assure them that you will keep them up-to-date on progress.

Pair-wise ranking

Ranking by voting


Number of votes





Management of artisanal fisheries resources





Safety at sea





Enterprise development





Environmental education





Social development initiative





Improve sanitation and hygiene





Before going on to the next unit

You have now reorganized and analysed your information according to certain categories. You have also focused on certain problems to address in the strategy.

The outputs of this unit will be used to create the project proposals in Unit 8, namely:

In the next unit you will identify and chose solutions.

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