Bridging the gap between resource-poor farmers and extension services: The role of community based extensions

Over the past two decades, the NGO, Practical Action, has implemented a range of food and livelihoods projects with farmers in some of the most marginalised areas of Africa, Latin America and South Asia. A key component of these projects has been the development of local or community-based extension systems (CBES) to bring information, skills and services to farmers and livestock keepers who would otherwise have limited access to government or commercial extension services. This paper looks at policy-related issues surrounding these local extension systems. It identifies the social, economic and technical factors that contribute to the success of CBES, and how local policies and practices have influenced the variety of models of CBES developed and their effectiveness. The paper draws on findings from a study of past projects in Bangladesh, Peru, Sudan and Kenya covering a range of ecosystems and policy environments. It assesses the sustainability of CBES several years after project support has finished, and how CBES can complement government or commercial services. The findings show that these systems do continue to provide a service to farmers after the ending of project support, and that they are valued by the local community. They can also provide more flexible, cost-effective and far-reaching services to resource-poor farmers in marginalised areas than government or commercial extension are able to. As such, recognition and support to CBES should be considered by policy-makers as part of an integrated and pro-poor approach to extension services.

Related Documents

Lessons in Urban Community Led Total Sanitation from Nakuru, Kenya

Community led total sanitation (CLTS) is an innovative methodology for mobilising communities to eliminate open defecation. Practical Action and Umande Trust implemented the project 'Realising the Right to Total Sanitation' in Nakuru, Kenya adapting...

Food and Livelihood Security: Lesson Learning Study including Community Extension Bangladesh Country Study Report

During 2007 a desk review was carried out of Practical Action’s projects and programmes to address critical aspects of food and livelihood insecurity . Whilst approaches had changed over the decades, it was possible to pull out interlinked areas...

The Energy Access Finance Gap: The Case for Action

Decentralised energy systems are attracting funding from a range of sources, but a large funding gap still remains. Development finance in the energy sector is still overwhelmingly directed towards extending the grid. Practical Action has long...

Community based conflict reduction and peace building in Kebkabiya, North Darfur

This project aimed to increase the adaptive capacity of both agriculturalist and pastoralist communities in Kebakabiya, through cooperative land management planning, conflict resolution, and improved access to water with appropriate technology....

Developing market systems for pro-poor energy services: Practical Action’s experience

Delivered at the RGS conference in Exeter, UK in September 2015, this presentation introduces how we can conceptualise some delivery models for energy access as market systems, and describes the format, objectives and outputs of a Participatory...


Practical Action Publishing

Practical Action Publishing logo

Discover more publications, journals, books and digital collections by
Practical Action Publishing, the specialist development publishers.

To obtain permission to reuse or reproduce any of this material, please
contact Practical Action Publishing


Practical Answers

Check out Practical Action's technical information service for toolkits, technology design briefs and much more


Your gift makes a real difference

With a regular or single gift, you can support our work with poor people in developing countries.

We use cookies to provide a consistent user experience and analyse how to improve our sites Our cookie policy