Lecture 2. Issue analysis and identification
The first step in designing any advocacy campaign is identifying the core issue and analyzing its roots and cause. This stage is called Problem and Issues Analysis and makes up the most challenging part of campaign design, so we will discuss it in most detail.

Let’s first understand what we mean by saying "root causes?”

Root causes are the basic reasons behind the problem or issue you are dealing with. Root cause identification makes our further efforts more focused, since we hit the very reason, or the “problem root”, instead of wasting our resources on dealing with the symptoms of the problem. It is an essential part of finding the right solution and helps us to identify the right responses.

The "But why?" technique is one method used to identify underlying reasons or root causes that affect an issue.

It examines a problem by asking questions to find out what caused it. Each time an answer is given, a follow-up "But why?" is asked.

For example, if you say that people in remote communities don’t have access to an arts education, you might ask yourself "but why?" Once you come up with an answer to that question, probe the answer with another "but why?" question, until you reach the root of the problem, the root cause.

Let’s illustrate this process with an example:

The immediate problem

Children are not going to arts school.

Ask why?

There are no accessible classes in the neighborhood.

Possible response: There are no teachers and no space.

Ask why?

The local school has no capacity or funds.

Possible response: Bring in teachers and provide funds.

Ask why?

The local government said it would provide funds and open arts teacher positions but it hasn’t.

Possible response: Attract sponsors or lobby the local government to provide the funds.

Ask why?

The central government has not released the funds they promised.

Possible response: Attract sponsors or lobby the central government to release the funds.

Ask why?

The central government hasn’t put the arts education funding in the budget.

Possible response: Attract sponsors or lobby the parliamentary budget committee to include funding in the next budget.

Many causes and solutions may apply to the problem, so it is up to us to find the ones that seem most important and that our organization has the capacity to work with. The "But why?" analysis does highlight the different causes of the problem and the different paths you may take to solve it.

Now that we know the root cause of the problems we face, we need to develop a vision and select the path for its solutions. We now know where to we start – let’s see where to go.

Visioning exercise is something that we need to perform. Basically, we need to answer a few important questions, such as:

  • What do we want our society/country to be like?

  • What specific features would act as indicators for our ideal society?

  • What needs to be changed for this to be achieved?

  • What are the obstacles that stop this happening?

Required change is now much more specific and we may select the practical strategic issue that keeps our ideal world from being a reality here and now.

Depending on the scale and aspirations of our organization, we can select a SMART path to improve people’s lives in accordance with our VISION by solving the issue identified.

Issue Selection or ISSUE ANALYSIS is a process of weighing our expertise, capacity and experience against the issue complexity. In other words, we need to make sure that the issue we face may be solved with resources that we would be able to mobilize. Another important thing: we need to see that the path for a solution does exist and there are practical opportunities/possibilities to make the changes needed. Finally there is a need to evaluate related risks to make sure they are manageable.

To summarize, in this lesson we learned how to identify the root cause of a problem and developed an understanding of the ways to drafting a visionary path to the desired solution. 

In our next video, we will learn to map our allies and opponents and to create the power balance map for our advocacy campaign.

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