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Supporting Communities in Building Resilience through Agro Pastoral Field Schools
Building resilience of vulnerable communities to the vagaries of climate change (CC) is not business as usual but, rather calls for more transformative approaches that can organically evolve to suit the dynamic and unique needs of different farming systems. However, most of the service delivery mechanisms are overstretched and built on the conventional model of unidirectional extension messages based on broad recommendations. The ecosystem‑based Farmer Field Schools (FFS) approach provides an excellent platform that is flexible and responsive to meeting the requisite tailored skills of the farmers.
Over the last fifteen years the FFS approach in the Republic of Uganda has been adapted from a mono-crop rice production system in South East Asia to suit the complex and diverse small holder farming system characteristics of Africa. It has been used to empower communities under three different contexts – improving productivity for food security and reducing rural poverty; restoring agricultural productivity among former internally displaced persons and refugee communities; and building resilience among agro pastoral communities faced with recurrent hazards like drought, floods and trans-boundary animal diseases.
Presently, the FFS programme has adopted a broader and holistic livelihoods dimension ensuring that beyond productivity, entrepreneurial, marketing and savings skills are core integral components of the learning process. The implementation has been conducted through a solid collaboration with the local governments, a national agricultural research system, the private sector and civil society. Through this arrangement, FAO has trained 58 Master Trainers, 796 facilitators and supported the establishment of more than 3 900 FFS benefiting at least 117 000 households and 702 000 direct beneficiaries. A network of more than 52 NGOs with full time facilitators has been vital in supplementing the government extension services to achieve this.