sibility is to identify a menu of evidence-based possibilities for what should work in different contexts. Hard data about approaches that work and do not work can guide modernization of extension services and improve the fit between services offered and needs expressed.
Support from NGOs could offer a bridge between the immediate postconflict period and longer-term sustainable development. However, NGOs work better as servants of government than as replacements for it, a subgroup participant noted. Following conflict, the government may be perceived as incompetent or untrustworthy. Government representatives need to convince the people that the government is a trustworthy and competent institution concerned with their needs. Thus extension systems should be organized to ensure that the government (and not NGO partners) receives the bulk of the credit due for any successes achieved.
Extension activities need to be both stabilizing and sustainable, subgroup participants said, and sustainability is often enhanced by support from multiple sources: public, private, governmental, or nongovernmental. Multiple sources of support also can enable decentralization. In the United States, for example, the extension service in each state or territory is operated by a land-grant institution, which, in addition to local, state, or territorial funding, receives some federal funding that can be used to support local extension agents who respond to local needs through community structures. In India, local governmental and administrative structures are vital to the successful implementation of local extension activities.
But generally government support in particular is necessary to ensure that services are sustainable, coordinated, and backstopped properly, through not only the training and “re-skilling” of agents but also proper monitoring, evaluation, and quality assurance for the service put in place.
Government support is also important because local areas are often resource starved. Local authorities can be empowered if given authority for resources, including taxation authority. When the central state controls all the resources, it can be difficult to have a bottom-up and decentralized system characterized by innovation and responsiveness to local needs. Outside funding organizations may provide support for a decentralized system, but coordinating multiple donors, and combining their efforts with state efforts, can be a challenge.