A Community-Based Approach to Building Capacity
Washington State University, along with many of its local NGO partners, uses an integrated community-based approach of intensive dialogue, training, and extension support while working to maintain traditional leadership structures. This ensures that we encourage and build the cultures we are working to support.
Local NGOs have extensive experience working with communities to promote tried and tested technologies (in some cases developed by WSU) that are affordable, adapted to the local climate, and are in high demand among rural communities.
Sustainability is achieved when adoption has proved productive, profitable, and environmentally friendly with no further need for external (technical) support; that is, once a sound foundation has been established for continuing and expanding impacts over a larger area. This expansion is based on strong relationships between and within communities and high demands for services. A good indicator of community growth is increased participation of villages and households in extension activities, and by villagers increasing the quantity and quality of their production. Another good indication of impact is the expansion to adjacent countries or places with similar growing conditions.
To empower communities, we focus on providing training, expanding outreach through extension services, increasing collaboration at the village level, provide access to materials and equipment, supporting marketing initiatives, and addressing cross-cutting health and social issues.
While poverty alleviation is our primary concern, WSU is committed to ensuring that policy is based on scientific evidence that can only be achieved by conducting thorough monitoring and evaluation (M&E) activities. These M&E activities are shared with the local NGOs as well as any others who would benefit from the knowledge of the impact we realize in our interventions. The tools used to accomplish this are many; from randomized experimental to one-on-one field surveys. These tools give us impact assessments of each intervention. These results are disseminated to policy makers and others working in international research and development.