Agriculture Extension with Community-Level Workers 2015-11-24
Lessons and Practices from Community Health and Community Animal Health Programs
By: Brian Flanagan as a USAID-funded Modernizing Extension and Advisory Services (MEAS; www.meas.illinois.edu) project
Active learning and exchange of knowledge are key to farmer adoption of beneficial agricultural innovations. Community health worker (CHW) and community animal health worker (CAHW) programs have led to a rich body of knowledge about extension, much of which is applicable to efforts aimed towards small-scale farmers. Drawn from the literature on these programs, this document captures key lessons and practices relevant to developing, implementing, and sustaining effective community agriculture extension endeavors. The objective of this paper is to inform and strengthen agricultural extension programs that provide services through community-level workers.
This paper reviews CHW and CAHW case studies, peer-reviewed articles, guidelines and project reports for purposes of identifying lessons and practices that could enhance the effectiveness of community extension worker programs. Lessons learned, as well as specific ways (practices) to apply those lessons, are identified for each of six developmental stages that the author found were characteristic of successful CHW and CAHW programs and relevant to agricultural community extension. Those six stages are: 1) designing a program, 2) recruiting and selecting of community workers, 3) training of community workers, 4) supervising of community workers, 5) scaling-up programs, and 6) sustaining programs over time. Key lessons and practices for each stage are listed in table form and then elaborated upon in the text.
There is often a critical gap between knowing what could be helpful and then making that information known so that it can be put into practice. Filling that gap is the specialty of an organization called Modernizing Extension and Advisory Services (MEAS; www.meas-extension.org/).With generous support from MEAS, ECHO completed a project to extract, summarize and disseminate key MEAS insights and lessons to our growing network of field-based practitioners.
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