1.9: Situation – Examples

Earth County in Western State has a variety of soil types and topography that affect soil erosion and farming practices. Here is what they know:

What is the problem/issue?Farmers in Earth County can lose up to an average of 3 tons of soil annually due to runoff.
Why is this a problem?This runoff leads to sedimentation, the accumulation of particles in a water body, which is one of the biggest contributors to the degradation of surface water in Earth County.
For whom does this problem exist?Farmers who are losing soil; people who are dependent on surface water.
Who has a stake in the problem?Farmers, people who use surface water, people who use the crops growing in Earth County, people who live downstream from Earth County, Department of Natural Resources.
What do we know about the problem?Half of the county’s 400,000 acres is cropped, much of it in areas of rolling hills and light, sandy soils. These fine grain sands are carried easily away by wind or water action. Data on the problem has been compiled in a recent Department of Natural Resources survey. Two farming practices, buffer strips and conservation tillage, are effective in conserving soil and reducing the amount of sediment that runs off the land and into local waters.

Now take a look at the Earth County situation statement.

Example Situation Statements

You can revise your situation statement by selecting Retry.

Often the situation statement is appended to the logic model, as text. We think it is important, however, to include a few words on the far left side of the logic model. These words should capture the core of the originating situation. What is the problem/issue? The situation sets the foundation for everything that follows, and is what we return to in order to see if we are making a difference. Too often we design and implement programs without fully considering and understanding the situation. The better we understand the situation and analyze the problem fully, the easier our logic model development will be.

  • Try keeping your situation statement to 500 words or less.
  • Avoid jargon and acronyms.
  • Avoid stating “the needs”.
  • Avoid including what you/your agency does or will provide.
  • Ask others to review for clarity. See if they can restate the problem/issue to be addressed.

  • Avoid the trap of assuming that you know what causes the problem. Often the result is that we analyze “symptoms” rather than get to the root cause of problems.
  • In addition, avoid the trap of defining the problem as a need for a program/service; for example, “communities need leadership training”; “teens need employment training”; “agency staff need to learn about outcome measurement.” This practice results in circular reasoning: provision of the program/service rather than delving into whether the program/service made a difference.

As we know, situations do not stay the same. We create a logic model based on an understanding of an originating situation. We expect our programmatic response to make a difference in that situation. Program success is often measured according to the extent to which we ameliorate that situation. Yet, situations change, from either natural and external causes or interactions with the program. We need to stay attuned to the changing situation and modify our logic models accordingly.

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