Closing the AEAS capacity gap

Background 

The African Forum for Advisory Services (AFAAS) hired a consultant, Myra Wopereis-Pura to conduct a capacity gap assessment and consequently propose a development plan to strengthen the capacities of agricultural extension and advisory service providers (AEAS). This was in line with the AFAAS Strategic plan 2018-2027 and component three of the CAADP XP4 Program. 

The role of agricultural extension in this transformation is further highlighted by Paul Fatch, AFAAS Vice-Chair, in the AFAAS news posted in April 2020. The AFAAS Executive Director also calls for greater investments in agricultural extension but also emphasized the need for a more ambitious vision and strategy from country fora on AEAS (AFAAS monthly newsletter March 2021). The purpose of the consultancy was to conduct an assessment on capacity gaps and propose a development plan to strengthen the capacities on AEAS policy analysis, formulation and advocacy as well as resource mobilization at continental, regional and national levels. The assignment focused on the capacities of AFAAS Secretariat staff, regional and country fora FPs. 

Methodology 

The rapid assessment was conducted using an online survey in the Anglophone and Francophone countries both in English and French language.  A total of 69 responses were received from 12 countries. In addition, five focus group discussions were held to collect in-depth information. Mali, Madagascar, Uganda, Nigeria and Malawi are the countries that gave most responses of the rapid assessment.

Key results and recommendations 

The consultants are now finalising the full analysis, however, based on the preliminary analysis, the following are key highlights on resource mobilization. There is a high interest to gain capacities or knowledge on how to mobilize resources. Respondents had varying roles in the organisation from being a member, to technical committee to board members and focal person.

There is a great need to strengthen capacities to mobilize resources in particular on articulating (based on logical source) the reasons for mobilizing resources, understanding the different mechanisms and sources of funding that is appropriate or relevant to the CF needs, partnership building to reach out to partners who would invest and implement, development of learning mechanism to document the process for their sustainability and ownership, and required administrative and legal requirements to be viable organizations to receive donor’s funding.

On the other hand, on policy influencing, the preliminary results reveal a need to seek policy change as a result of personal perceptions that policy requires stronger analysis both qualitative and quantitative with concrete and practical use of tools adaptable to the countries. Therefore, capacity strengthening interventions are needed on analytical assessment of gaps/needs/opportunities to create logic on the changes. In addition, there is need to articulate messages (content), engagement of key actors / partnership building to create teams with clear objectives, roles and responsibilities, co-designing of learning mechanisms for the process, and ownership of the process.