Using Sustainable Livelihoods Framework for assessing the impact of Extension programmes: An empirical study in the context of Joint Forest Management
As a profession, Extension has been prompted to embrace a broadened mandate that goes beyond transferring technologies and triggering agricultural development. International organisations have started to shift from ‘agricultural’ to ‘rural’ focus in their programmes and it is inevitable that extension’s success in future will not be judged in terms of technology transfer or (even) agricultural development alone. As a consequence, the scope of evaluating extension programmes will have to broaden itself for justifying the government expenditure and to enliven its prospect as a profession. Sustainable Livelihoods (SL) Framework provides excellent scope to capture the multifaceted impact of development programmes on clients’ livelihoods in terms of increase in their asset base and decrease in vulnerabilities. The present article describes development of a tool to assess the impact of Joint Forest Management (JFM) intervention in selected villages of the Ayodhya Hills of Purulia district, West Bengal and also shows the results of its field testing. The development of the tool followed a simple indicator-based multi-stakeholder approach taking SL framework as a reference. Conceptualisation of ‘impact pathway’ with continuous incorporation of stakeholder views helped to develop this tool. This was followed by the development of a ‘perception analysis tool’, using recall data, to assess the impact of JFM intervention on the respondents. The field testing of the tool successfully captured the impact of JFM on peoples’ assets and vulnerabilities. It could also discriminate successful Forest Protection Committee from the less successful one. This type of indicator-based multi-stakeholder approach may be applied for the future ‘extension plus’ programmes, which will contribute towards the sustainable livelihoods of its clients rather than disseminating technologies and/or technical information only.
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