National Extension Policy
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Extension Opinion: No 7: The challenge of building resilient livelihoods

There are three basic problems with current approaches to extension services, particularly in the public sector:
  • They focus on delivery not enablement – we can forever “try harder” to deliver, but it’s a survival mechanism, not a development one.
  • They promote addiction not learning – service delivery protests reflect the resentment that comes with dependency.  Resilient communities are learning centres, taking responsibility for their own outcomes.
  • They erode trust and nourish a Mafia of corrupt officialdom and patronage.

The Sustainable Community Investment Program (SCIP) proposes an alternative to this model, focusing on moving from the delivery of goods and services to the facilitation of communities’ ability to provide for themselves.  The belief that they cannot do this is a relic of our past – it sustains the myth of an incompetent citizenry so that power can conveniently remain centralised.  

The SCIP model is premised on the conviction that with skilled facilitation, communities - urban or rural - can rediscover who they are and mobilise to take responsibility for themselves and grow resilient livelihoods.  Three imperatives:
  • Grow the multiplier (the number of times money circulates before leaving a community).  The poorer the community, the lower tends to be the multiplier, so most of government’s billions in support grants go where they have least return in enhancing livelihoods.  To raise the multiplier SCIP supports the establishment and growth of vibrant local markets1  to encourage local trade in locally-produced goods and services2 .
  • Make employee/citizen ownership meaningful.  Markets just make it worthwhile to produce goods and services.  To actually produce them locally, people have to come to recognise that they are not without productive assets.  Local assets (land, water, labour, work-places…) are ascribed a value so that individuals recognise they already own resources, and can engage in the marketplace with substance.
  • Create Community Trusts.  Once we have markets and “asseted” people, we need a way to nurture the trade that is now made possible.  Community Trusts are a vehicle to manage these resource flows.  They generate understandable budgets and administer their spending, learning and growing from their own experience.

Our people may be despondent but they are not inherently lazy or incompetent.  The role of extension services is not to supply the needs of everyday survival.  That should be only an emergency bridging expedient.  If people are to regain their creative connection with themselves and each other, this role has to morph into one which elicits their own capacity to beneficiate local resources into enhanced living standards.  Not an easy role - it may be the most difficult on the planet, and one which requires training, trust and courage.  But it is the only role that is not just digging a bottomless pit of dependency.  Existing SCIP interventions3  demonstrate that it works.

Notes
  1. In the early 1960’s the then government closed down some 360 local produce markets, replacing them with 13 central marketing boards.  This effectively collapsed local rural economies in this country, resulting in mass rural destitution and a consequent abundant supply of cheap labour to the mines.
  2. The markets will be the first visible manifestation of a SCIP-style intervention.  They may be daily or periodic, fixed or mobile, but always exciting, inviting.  They can incorporate:
    • Relevant local extension services
    • Pay points for any government or other grants
    • Financial facilities – a bank or stokvel
    • Entertainment – music, theatre . . .
    • The facilitator, who will use her creativity to highlight to the community gaps in the market, and her networks to link with skills and resources to bridge those gaps
The Siyavuna project on the South Coast is an independent and thriving rural community project, started in 2008, developed with SCIP-trained facilitators. 

Click the image for a view of: Mrs. Mthembu’s garden in Gcilima
Mrs. Mthembu’s garden in Gcilima

Posted: 9/15/2012 (8:55:23 AM)


 Comments


 "'If people are to regain their creative connection with themselves and each other, this role has to morph into one which elicits their own capacity to beneficiate local resources into enhanced living standards'-indeed, small farmers have sound local"
Annon Posted: 10/3/2012 11:32:09 AM



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