Drafting an Impressive Problem Statement

December 26, 2021
min read

A winning Problem statement is not only well-prepared and thoughtfully planned, but also concisely crafted.

A problem statement answers the question: “Why do you care?”

It demonstrates there is an important problem; it is significant, and it is urgent.

A problem statement must relate to your organization’s mission statement and the core focus of the funder.

The problem statement establishes the problem and describes the conditions in the community that your organization will address. The problem statement is an opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of the community issue and your organization’s ability to address the need.

An impressive problem statement answers the 5 'W's (Who, What, Where, When, and Why)

eg  'Reduced Bone Density among lactose-intolerant persons in Lagos Adult homes'

'Dirty streets threatening the health of inner-city kids in Ibadan'

'Digital illiteracy mitigating the livelihood of kids in Ijora Badia'

Tips on describing the Problem statement:

● Subject Matter:

Statistics/data can be informative or startling, but they are not relatable. Put a face on the problem, describe a real example of how the problem is affecting someone’s life and how the proposed intervention will impact his/her life. Make it real.

'The events of January 27, 2002, put Nigeria's readiness to deal with emergencies and disasters to test when an ammunition dump at a military base in Lagos caught fire, setting off explosives that resulted in the death of over 1,000 people. There were no emergency responders to call. Hundreds of people, mainly women, and children tried to cross a drainage canal to safety. But they got mired in its mud and drowned. Most of the people who died at that canal could have been saved if help had come early enough. Locals were the first rescue efforts in the area. They provided the canoes and volunteers to pull out hundreds of bodies from the murky waters of the canal. It was only on the third day that dredgers and navy divers sent by the government made their first appearance.

It is almost 2 decades after and the nation still records over four million injuries and more than 200,000 deaths yearly ( i.e 15 persons daily and 4 persons every six hours) due to delays in ambulance response, first aid, and hesitancy in rendering medical or initial casualty care, and the concern over the cost of treatment defrayment...'

● Problem implications:

What will happen to the target population/community if the problem is not resolved?

' According to a 2019 report by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), 230 million jobs will require digital skills by 2030. Kids from the slums of Ijora Badia, Lagos, Nigeria unlike their counterparts from affluent backgrounds currently lack access to digital technologies, and more importantly the competence to navigate them. This poses a great threat to their employability in the next decade...'

● Problem urgency:

Why does it need to be addressed now?

What can possibly go wrong if this issue is not tackled immediately?

'According to WHO, Nigeria records the highest rate of depression in Africa with 1 in 4 at the verge of committing suicide. Despite the growing risk of psychological disorders among youths, there are only...‘

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