Africa: Putting process into practice: operationalising participatory extension
A participatory extension approach (PEA) was developed in Zimbabwe. It integrates elements of participatory technology development (PTD) and approaches such as action learning. The PEA involves a transformation in the way extension agents interact with farmers. The operationalization of learning process approaches to community development and rural extension is examined, and the PEA is systematized into process phases and steps, which allow extension agents to understand the process dynamics, while preventing a blueprint implementation. The systematization combined with a 1- to 2-year training and learning process, is the foundation for the development of field staff. The cornerstones of the PEA are social mobilization which includes local organizational development, action planning, experiential learning through trying out new ideas and options and evaluation of the action by the people involved in the process. Innovation is seen as a product of social negotiation and the spreading of innovation as a product of good effective social organization and communication at community level. The extension intervention is therefore geared toward strengthening mechanisms for joint learning and sharing of experiences and communication among farmers and between farmers and outsiders. The immediate impact is a more efficient development and diffusion of technologies but secondary impacts such as improved self-governance are equally important.
KIT(E3161) Network Paper Agricultural Research and Extension Network, ODI (UK). 1999, no. 94, 23 p.