Posted February 1998
IN THE GREAT MAJORITY of cases, capacity building consisted primarily of training for government line agency officers and field workers in participatory methods and/or gender analysis. Projects using PRA/GA methods conducted short introductory training sessions and subsequently trained field officers "on-the-job" during actual PRA/GA village exercises lasting 5-10 days each. Project staff conducted the initial training. In the three cases where a training of trainers (TOT) approach was used (Namibia, India and Ethiopia), project staff trained the trainers who then trained other local area staff.
In Namibia formal training of trainers (TOT) was conducted in three separate sessions spread over the course of the project life. The first TOT focused on the analysis of difference and PRA training, after which trainees conducted PRAs. The implementation of PRA/GA exercises helped trainees gain a clearer understanding of concepts like gender roles, farming systems, and client-responsive extension approaches. During the second TOT the initial PRA findings were reviewed, case studies were prepared for the training of other extension agents, and the trainees were taught basic principles of adult education. The third, initially unforeseen, TOT training on preparing the trainees to conduct the regional-level workshops in which the PRA results were to be shared with policy makers. The use of multiple training sessions interspersed with practical application of the PRAs was key to the success of the project's capacity building efforts.
Ethiopia also used a training of trainers (TOT) approach. Before conducting the first TOT, project staff prepared materials based on local situations, wrote an Amharic language guidebook on "How to Make Your Extension Program Client-Oriented", and produced a video based on the pilot PRAs. The first two-week TOT covered extension, adult education, gender analysis, and PRA. The trained trainers then trained local subject matter specialists and field agents from each project zone. PRAs lasting 8-10 days each were conducted in 5 villages. A second three week TOT session reviewed the PRA implementation experience, improved the training materials, and discussed ways to use PRA generated information in planning extension programmes. At this point, it was decided that the trainers should also train the district level extension agents in how to use PRA information to develop their individual work programmes. Although the direct training of field agents in practical extension planning had not been foreseen in the original project plan, the case study suggested that it was, in fact, an essential step in assisting planners and field agents actually use PRA information to make their own planning processes responsive to gender and other differences among farmers.
The Ethiopia case study pointed out that the fact that the project's own internal planning processes had been participatory was a major factor in the success of its capacity building programme. The training objectives, content, location, and length were all planned jointly by the zonal and regional coordinators, the international extension adviser, and the national project coordinator.
The India's Sikkim livestock project also focused heavily on training. It conducted training of trainers for agriculture and community development staff covering problem analysis (factors affecting livestock production), goat and poultry production, livestock marketing, PRA, GA, rapid appraisal of tenure and interviewing techniques. The trained trainers then trained other staff and farmers in PRA and livestock issues. The project also sent staff for training in other countries, i.e. to a course in natural resource management and participatory methods conducted by a Kenyan NGO and to a course in PRA in Ethiopia. At project termination, two key staff had become fully qualified trainers.
Nepal trained a wide variety of district development officers from agriculture, livestock, irrigation, and extension departments. It also trained women's development officers, agricultural development bank officers and a few of the staff from the MOA's Women Farmer Development Division. The 15-20 persons trained in each of three districts then carried out PRAs in 2-3 villages. Lack of time was a major constraint to the effectiveness of the training. Only four days were used to present all the PRA and GA concepts and tools used in the PRA exercises. Given the team's lack of previous experience with these tools, project staff had to take a stronger lead than they wished in facilitating the PRAs in order to assure the production of good quality data. The Nepal case supports the finding in the Namibia, India and Ethiopia projects that a comprehensive training strategy based on several training event is needed if line agencies are to be able to use participatory approaches in their normal work. In Nepal, lack of time to train trainers meant that except for the project trainer himself, there are no MOA staff who can teach PRA/GA methods for agricultural planning or provide follow-up training for the first group of trainees.
Projects focused in specific sub-sectors, such as livestock, extension, or women's micro-enterprise, usually conducted technical training for farmers as well as training in participatory methods. In some cases, projects also focused on training farmers in participatory monitoring (Afghanistan, India) and in methods for strengthening group organisations (Honduras, Costa Rica). Some case study analysts suggested that experience with PRA tools provided farmers with ways of gathering evidence that could help them negotiate with government agencies.
Training in gender analysis for all levels of planners, from policy makers to technicians to women's organisations, was a major focus of the Costa Rica project. By giving people at all levels a common language for the analysis of gender issues, the project attempted to maximise joint learning and positive feed back both horizontally and vertically within the planning/policy-making hierarchy. The case study emphasises the importance of conducting training of trainers workshops in order to create national capacity and generate the basis for expansion and replication of the methodological process developed in other regions and institutions. At the end of the project, the WID units and the planning divisions in the various institutions of the agricultural sector started a similar process in order to expand the experience and contribute to the deepening of previous learning.
A key capacity building focus in the Honduras projects was the technical training of village women volunteers as intermediaries between women's groups and extension agents. For this a specific methodology was developed which, when the extension service was privatised, made it possible to train large numbers of rural women volunteers as para-technicians who could support women's groups to conduct social and financial feasibility analysis of income generating projects. These volunteers were also trained in the financial and managerial aspects of forming and administering rural savings and credit banks. The training method was made up of "modules" that permitted the trainees to apply what they had learned and then return for the next module when they could compare problems and experiences.
The Honduras project also trained government agency staff in gender analysis. This effort culminated in gender analysis workshops for national and regional agricultural agency directors and for all rural project directors in the country. This is one of the few projects at the workshops that actually conducted training workshops at the agency and project director level.
Given the absence of government institutions in Afghanistan, the PIHAM project training was concentrated on its own staff and that of the associated Animal Health and Livestock Production Programme as well as farmers. Experiences were also shared with NGOs and United Nations agencies. The following table from the Afghanistan case study summarises the effects of the project's capacity building activities.
|Village women||Exchange of experience between women farmers; women realised responsibility of keeping livestock, e.g. mating time; increased ability to record/monitor changes (reporting forms); could record disease patterns and see vaccination time (seasonal calendars); learned importance of talking to experienced women, also that they had a bigger role in livestock management than they thought (labour analysis); were able to identify many causes of problems; solutions based on resources at hand; easier, cheaper, more effective (input/output charts).|
|Village men||Learned how much women are involved in livestock (labour analysis, seasonal calendars, etc.) and the importance of discussing with them the problems, finding diagnosis, etc. (discuss with wife); relationship between villagers/staff improved; (see also above under village women for similar capacities gained).|
(includes men and women)
|Attitude, behaviours changed towards farmer ("no longer proud"); learned how to talk with people and listen; learned how to give others a chance to talk; worked now from the bottom-up rather than top-down; learned that farmers have important knowledge (all through adult learning methods and PRA methods - listening exercises, role plays, etc.)|
|Veterinary Field Units||Overall improved capacity to understand importance of participatory approaches; learned from initiators (through staff discussions, sharing)|
Project management/ staff
(includes Chief Technical Adviser; National Assistant Manager, Livestock Production; National Manager of Agricultural Health Service
|Participatory training skills for key project management (participation in initial training modules); use participatory methods for monitoring and project design (transfer of skills from PIHAM training, e.g. Women's Programme revisions); learned from mistakes and can work with trainers to correct; planning capacity improved overall (through improved understanding of community needs through direct contact and continuous monitoring of PIHAM Pilot and Replication phases); recognise that without the involvement of women, key livestock information is incomplete (through participating in early PIHAM training and analysis).|
|NGOs||Through exchange related to PIHAM processes, became more aware of the farming systems in their area as well as elsewhere; could provide modifications to training (manuals).|
|UN agencies in Afghanistan||Through sharing of PIHAM experiences with other UN agencies, awareness raised of importance of community participation in planning; future potential for sharing of methods with other projects/programmes.|
Summary on Capacity BuildingCapacity building in most projects was focused on government and project staff. In the PRA/GA focused projects, the most successful capacity building efforts involved the training of trainers (TOT) who in turn trained field staff and conducted PRAs with their trainees. Successful PRAs were conducted by field staff who had received only 3-5 days of preliminary training in PRA and GA tools, because becoming competent in the use of participatory approaches is more dependent on practice than on detailed theoretical training. On the other hand, further training after conducting a PRA is important to consolidate and further develop participatory planning skills.
Opportunities for trainees to analyse the results of the PRAs and to adapt its tools and methods to better reflect local realities were important components of training in Namibia, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan. Several projects emphasised the importance of spreading formal training sessions and workshops over time so that intervening experiences could be analysed and integrated into planning processes. The Ethiopia project found that training in specific extension planning procedures was needed to enable field staff to apply what they learned from conducting PRAs to their own work.
The Honduras, Costa Rica, Pakistan and Senegal projects directly trained women farmers in group organisation as well as technical skills. Pakistan also taught PRA, Senegal taught MARP, and Honduras and Costa Rica taught gender analysis at this level (as did the other projects using these methods). Some projects (Namibia, Ethiopia, and Costa Rica) provided informal and formal training at the policy-making and line agency management level.