Original Research

Evaluating the impact of agricultural extension programmes in sub-Saharan Africa: Challenges and prospects

Hailemichael Taye
African Evaluation Journal | Vol 1, No 1 | a19 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aej.v1i1.19 | © 2013 Hailemichael Taye | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 March 2013 | Published: 30 September 2013

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Hailemichael Taye, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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Background: In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), impact evaluation has been used to assess whether agricultural extension interventions have brought the intended result or to establish causal linkages between interventions and outcomes. However, there is some scepticism about the validity and reliability of the results of the impact evaluation reports due to some contradictory and exaggerated results.

Objectives: This article analyses some impact evaluation studies conducted in SSA as to why contradictions and exaggerations are manifested in some reports and what would be the future prospects of impact evaluation of agricultural extension programmes in the region.

Methods: Impact evaluation reports and results of agricultural extension programmes from 10 SSA countries were reviewed and analysed based on impact evaluation principles and theories.

Results: The results show that most of the evaluations reported positive impacts. There are also conflicting reports on extension performance. The fact that the overwhelming majority of impact evaluation reports claim positive extension impacts is not in line with the reports on agricultural productivity growth in the region. There are various reasons for over estimated impacts and contradictory results, which include use of poor impact evaluation methodologies, lack of reliable data and insufficient capacity to conduct rigorous impact evaluations.

Conclusion: Due to these challenges and the shift in agricultural research and extension approaches, it is recommended that rather than investing effort in trying to prove impact, greater attention should be given to improving impact as well as using other innovative monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and learning tools that consider the dynamic nature of agricultural development.


Baseline data, Contradictory results, Innovative M&E, Methodologies, Positive


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