Africa / Animal Feeding / Ethiopia / Fodder / Innovation Systems / Livestock / Scaling

Moving from “project mode” to sustained change in practice among local actors – some challenges

We hear a lot these days about “project-led approaches”. Projects come in and deliver various interventions but these tend to leave no lasting impression beyond the life of the project. Such approaches tend to focus on technical interventions. One response has been to think more about innovation systems: dealing with the range of players already operating within the sector and devoting efforts to facilitating innovation among that group – this could be by exploring technical options but also by thinking about organizational or policy changes. However, this is a lot more challenging than delivering a few technical interventions to a handful of farmers as we are discovering.

In one of our learning sites there is a degree of market orientation among farmers. We started in reasonably conventional style with some planted fodder options but used this to stimulate interest among a range of local players including the local extension office and the local research system. Very soon wider issues came onto the agenda: milk marketing, supply of cross-bred animals, veterinary services etc. We developed joint actions on various of these issues along with local stakeholders. There is quite a lot of interest and we see lots of enthusiasm for scaling out the use of stakeholder platforms to facilitate improvements in feed supply and deal with other constraints. As we come into our final project year, we want to avoid becoming one of those projects which leaves no lasting impression so we have been trying to devolve facilitation of stakeholder platforms to the local government livestock agency. This will involve jointly developing a plan of activities for the stakeholder platform for the coming year and then passing them some funds for implementation. Early signs are that this is going to work.

In another site which is food insecure and has had drought problems for the last couple of years the challenges are greater. We floated the idea of devolving funds and responsibilities to the local pastoral development office but were met with major skepticism. According to our partners, funds put into the system would never become available for the activities for which they were intended. Local bureaucrats would find ways of delaying access to funds which would make the whole process impossible. So we are now faced with a dilemma: we continue in project mode and see some action in the coming year or we invest in the system and risk seeing nothing happening on the ground.

There are important generic issues here:

– facilitating stakeholder platforms is quite demanding of time and resources in itself. Is the use of stakeholder platforms just another project-led approach? Who will take responsibility for facilitating these platforms when we are gone?
– Is our focus on planted fodder and improving feed supply for production of livestock commodities untenable in a food insecure area?

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4 thoughts on “Moving from “project mode” to sustained change in practice among local actors – some challenges

  1. Whenever we want to introduce some changes in certain area/community etc it always starts with project led approach.However any approach will always lead to certain questions unanswered like in this learning through such experience necessitates to think what about after the expiry of project. Therefore we must plan to hand over this responsibility to the local leadership. Therefore this thing must be in our mind and part of the project to develop local leadership and create an environment so that this leadership may sustain in future also

  2. Yes Mr Alan you are right we faced almost the same situation and found burocratic attitude in developing countries is almost the same.
    However we found the solution to Capacity building of local stake holders while bypassing the local burocracy. Since we were sure that the project will be successful and once it will be successful many more stack holders will like to join. Through competition ultimately we will leave the local leadership running and multiplying the activities which we want to introduce. My experience shows that once you prove that the project is viable,profit making local stake holders will automatically tackle the issues. Off course make it sure that the involvement of burocracy must be minimal which may be unavoidable as per particular local circumstances which vary from place to place

  3. Yeaha it is right, to enable projects leaves lasting impression creating ownership sense among all potential stakeholder is very important.Though it is challenging i think trying in that direction is a better way!

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