Assessing the role of stakeholder platforms as drivers of resilient communities: the case of Malawi

Cristina Álvarez-Mingote, Austen Moore, Paul McNamara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Climate-related shocks increasingly stress food systems, making resilience-building among rural communities crucial to food security. The Strengthening Agricultural and Nutrition Extension (SANE) project in Malawi strengthens stakeholder platforms to improve farmers’ capacities towards climate change, food security, and community resilience. This paper provides empirical evidence for SANE’s Theory of Change. Design/methodology/approach: A mixed-methods approach was used to evaluate how strengthening stakeholder platforms affects farmers’ voice and community resilience. Quantitative and qualitative data, captured via structured interviews of stakeholder platform members in SANE and non-SANE districts, was used to track changes over time and analyze how differences in platforms’ functionality relate to farmers’ voice, responsiveness to farmers’ needs, and more resilient communities. Findings: Results show tangible improvements in platform functionality in SANE districts over time as well as substantial differences when comparing the performance of these stakeholder platforms in SANE and non-SANE districts. The qualitative evidence also illustrates how stronger platforms help farmers’ advocacy and ability to deal with climate-related shocks. Practical implications: Stronger platforms not only facilitate better extension service delivery, but also reduce the need for external support as communities work to address their own problems, itself a form of resilience. Theoretical implications: The adoption of bottom-up and participatory extension approaches where farmers become active drivers of extension curricula can be instrumental in improving food security and resilience to shocks. Originality/value: This study shows that efforts directed at the extension system are part of the solution, and system-focused research can provide unique insights.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-95
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Agricultural Education and Extension
Volume26
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

Keywords

  • Malawi
  • Stakeholder platforms
  • farmers’ voice
  • food security
  • participatory extension
  • resilience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Education
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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