There are three dimensions to sustainable development: social, economic, and environmental. Knowledge sharing is critical to supporting these dimensions, and extension and advisory services are a vital knowledge-sharing institution. Extension is key for linking scientific research, field-level innovations and innovators, markets, education, and other service providers.
This Guide to Evaluating Rural Extension has been developed by the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS). The purpose is to support those involved in extension evaluation to choose how to conduct more comprehensive, rigorous, credible and useful evaluations. The Guide supports readers to understand different types of evaluation, to make decisions on what is most appropriate for their circumstances, and to access further sources of theoretical and practical information. The Guide is intended to primarily be used by four sets of evaluation stakeholders:
- Those commissioning and managing evaluations
- Professional evaluators and staff responsible for monitoring systems
- Professionals involved in training and educating evaluators
- Researchers looking for ways to synergise their efforts with evaluation initiatives
The process of preparing this Guide began in 2010 with the production of a Review of Literature on Evaluation Methods Relevant to Extension and a Meta-evaluation of Extension Case Studies. These materials, combined with extensive consultation with a range of stakeholders, were then used to as background for the development of a draft version of this Guide. During 2011 the Guide was finalised based on feedback received.
There are routes to facing the challenges imposed by the situations described above. One of the most important is through technological change derived from research, extension, and innovation, variables that are becoming more important and strategic for growth and development. There is a new interest in repositioning and strengthening rural extension, which has become considerably weakened and has nearly disappeared over the past few decades. The Ministers of Agriculture of 34 countries in the Americas issued a statement during their October 2011 meeting in Costa Rica in order to promote agricultural innovation. They also made a commitment to promote investment in order to generate new knowledge and strengthen extension systems
Rural extension plays a significant and irreplaceable role in an innovation system that creates, designs, validates, and promotes new ideas, solutions, technologies, and forms of management focused on the resolution of problems and satisfaction of the needs of farmers and rural inhabitants and the organizations that represent them. In view of the above, this document presents proposals for making rural extension a key part of innovation systems focused on rural territorial development. This is understood as the productive and institutional transformation of a specific space in order to reduce rural poverty
Rural extension2 has played an important role in the promotion of agriculture as a motor for economic growth and continues to be an effective tool for helping thousands of families to improve their living conditions in terms of food safety and economic and social management. In Latin America, extension systems will not prove their effectiveness in the reduction of rural poverty unless their strategies and actions are complemented by solid public policies, investments, and other services.
The Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS) has commissioned the Natural Resources Institute to develop a toolkit for the evaluation of extension (projects, programmes, tools and initiatives). This commission has a number of components:
- A meta-evaluation of 15-20 evaluation case studies(presented here)
- A meta-review of the literature relevant to extension evaluation methods
- A workshop with practitioners and experienced evaluators to discuss the findings of a) and b) and to identify an initial set of tools
- A proposal for testing the proposed tools in a second phase of the project
- A brief of the toolkit for policymakers.
The overall purpose of this project is to identify methods for better evaluation of extension through the development of a toolkit for extension evaluation. The meta-evaluation and meta-review will also provide an in-depth basis for the selection of the approaches, methods and tools in the toolkit.
This review of literature on evaluation methods, in combination with a meta-evaluation of extension evaluation case studies, is intended to be a resource for extension evaluation. It is envisaged that this review will be of interest to those involved in managing and implementing evaluations of rural advisory services as well as to extension and evaluation specialists
The literature review focuses specifically on approaches and methodologies in evaluation which are relevant for evaluating initiatives in extension or rural advisory services.
The materials reviewed include academic papers, existing evaluation toolboxes and major evaluation guidelines and frameworks. After an introduction and information on the changing orientation of both extension and evaluation, the context and scope of the review are discussed. This is followed by sections addressing the purposes, users and uses of evaluation, evaluation standards and criteria, approaches, rigour, and attribution. The final three sections discuss the principles for evaluation of rural advisory services in highly complex situations; the strengths, weaknesses, and gaps in existing approaches; and the ways forward.
Ha surgido una renovada atención hacia el papel tan importante que desempeñan los servicios de asesoría rural (extensión) en los procesos de desarrollo. Este documento resume la publicación titulada ‘Cómo movilizar el potencial de la extensión agraria y rural’ que se elaboró para la Conferencia Mundial sobre la Investigación Agrícola para el Desarrollo (GCARD, por sus siglas en inglés), la cual se celebró en Montpellier en marzo del 2010*. Los servicios de asesoría rural son esenciales para situar las demandas de los/las pequeños/as productores al centro del desarrollo rural, velando así por la seguridad alimentaria y abordando la incertidumbre y los riesgos existentes. Este resumen informativo se centra en cinco oportunidades para movilizar el potencial de los servicios de asesoría rural
Il y a un intérêt renouvelé pour le rôle important que jouent les services de conseil rural (vulgarisation) dans le processus de développement rural. La présente note est un résumé du document «Mobilisation du potentiel de vulgarisation rural et agricole» préparé à l’occasion de la Consultation mondiale sur la recherche agricole pour le développement (GCARD) qui s’est tenue en mars 2010* à Montpellier. Les services de conseil rural sont indispensables pour mettre les demandes des petits exploitants au coeur du développement, assurer la sécurité alimentaire et faire face aux risques et aux incertitudes. La note se concentre sur cinq possibilités de mobiliser le potentiel des services de conseil rural.
This paper presents an overview of current opportunities and challenges facing efforts to increase the impact of rural and agricultural extension. The starting point for this analysis is in recognition that the days when agricultural extension was synonymous with the work of public sector agencies are over. The ‘extension services’ described here may just as likely consist of an input vendor advising a farmer about what seed to plant, a television station broadcasting a weather forecast, a supermarket advising traders about what standards are required for the vegetables they purchase or a farmer organization lobbying for research that re ects the demands of its members for new technologies. Mobilizing the potential of extension is about enhancing this broad and complex flow of information and advice in the agrifood sector.
Mapping Long-term Options for GFRAS:
In July 2010, the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS) requested ETC Foundation to undertake the assignment “Mapping Long-term Options for GFRAS”. The purpose of this assignment was to review a number of existing global networks, initiatives and forums in order to provide GFRAS with criteria and options for developing its long-term set-up, including structure, governance and funding mechanisms.
As required by the ToR, ETC compiled an initial list of 17 possible networks1 that could be included in the review. This list was discussed with GFRAS considering aspects such as usefulness as a model for GFRAS, availability of relevant (internet-based) information and accessibility to key resource persons within the short period of the review. Eight networks which provided the diversity required for the review were selected. The list included networks of global and regional orientation, within and outside the agriculture sector, hosted and non-hosted, with a range of stakeholders and diverse funding arrangements.
This report presents the findings of this review. It begins with a brief outline of the study approach and continues to describe in detail the eight networks reviewed. Key considerations, criteria and options for GFRAS are extracted based on the information gathered through the review. The final chapter formulates a number of general conclusions.
GFRAS Brief #1
Rural advisory services are key to putting smallholder demands at the centre of rural development, ensuring food security, and dealing with risks and uncertainty. The brief focuses on five opportunities to mobilise the potential of rural advisory services.
A brochure introducing GFRAS
A Synthesis of Actors and Issues
The purpose of this synthesis report is to provide the required background information and analysis that will - together with other ongoing validation activities–enable GFRAS, the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services, to develop its five-year-strategy and work plan, in order to fulfil its mission and objectives. GFRAS was created to provide a space for advocacy and leadership on pluralistic, demand-driven rural advisory services within the global development agenda that promote sustainable rural growth and help the poor. GFRAS’ four objectives are to (1) provide a voice for advisory services within global policy dialogues, (2) support the development and synthesis of evidence-based approaches and policies for improving the effectiveness of rural advisory services (RAS); (3) facilitate interaction and networking for individual, organisational, and institutional capacity strengthening in RAS; and (4) promote the creation of an enabling environment for improved investment in RAS.