Institutionalisation of the Field School approach

Project completed

SDC and FAO have been instrumental in promoting the Farmer Field School (FFS) approach in Eastern Africa and SDC is recognized as the key donor in harmonization and policy mainstreaming of the approach that serves more than 10’000 groups in the region. Its sustainability will now be further enhanced by setting up a regional FS knowledge hub that provides support to further integrate it in public and private extension service providers.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Horn of Africa
Agriculture & food security
Agricultural development
Agricultural policy
Agricultural research
Agricultural services & market
01.12.2015 - 30.06.2018
CHF  1’160’000

A vibrant agricultural sector, and in particular smallholder agriculture and pastoral production, is a precondition for achieving high and sustainable growth, poverty reduction and food security in East Africa.  Agricultural extension, especially in marginalised areas, is often non-existing or weak, leaving communities without any source of information and support to improve their agricultural production. With this background the FFS approach has emerged as a tool to address current gaps and needs in the sector in a holistic manner. To date several thousands of Field Schools (FS) have been set up throughout Eastern Africa in eight countries[1]. As with any programme that is subject to rapid scaling up, one of the greatest challenges is to maintain the quality of FS implementation and ensure adherence to the core principles that have contributed to their success. 

[1] Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, South-Sudan, Djibouti, Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia 


To contribute to increased capacity of vulnerable farmers and agro-pastoralists to enhance their livelihoods and productive capacity.

Target groups

FS implementing actors (international and national institutions, research bodies, NGOs, government departments, private actors, farmer/pastoralist networks, customary institutions and cooperatives) across the larger East Africa region. National governments, in particular extension services and departments, are also directly targeted.

Medium-term outcomes
  1. Public and private Field School service providers have access to quality information on FS and are actively engaged in peer networking and knowledge sharing.
  2. Enhanced levels of Institutionalization, in policy and practice, of the Field School approach in the region.

Expected results:  

  • A regional Field School knowledge hub is established.
  • A regional FS knowledge sharing platform is operational.
  • Key gender sensitive guidelines and training tools are developed.
  • FS clearly embedded in extension policy and frameworks in four countries.
  • Nationally owned multi-stakeholder FS coordination platforms initiated.
  • FS approach embedded in extension education of at least one national or regional training institution.

Results from previous phases:  

The FS approach is widely used by public and private extension service providers in the region.To date, more than 10’000 FS (approx. 1’000 PFS) have been set up (5’000 FS in Kenya, 4’000 FS in Uganda) and an estimated 7’000 are still operational. Thanks to the SDC project Training manuals[1] and guidelines have been published and curricula for Master Trainer courses developed and implemented, regional conferences were organized and the APFS approach has been integrated in various government plans. Approximately 100 new groups have been initiated.

FS have achieved considerable prominence as tools for helping farmers and pastoralists improving their livelihoods. As a consequence, the approach enjoys appreciation within development circles. Mainstreaming FS in private and public extension services remains a key challenge. 

[1] APFS manual

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
Private sector
United Nations Organization (UNO)
  • Food and Agricultural Organisation
  • Foreign private sector North

Coordination with other projects and actors
  • Coordination with planned IGAD/FAO partnership programme and other programmes that use the FS approach
  • Creation of linkages with other SDC funded ongoing/new programmes in the region (K-RAPID, FAO Resilience, SomRep, Drought Resilience in Somali region & NRM Borana)
  • Close synergies with the World Bank Regional Pastoral Livelihood Resilience Programme (RPLRP)
Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    1’160’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    1’160’000
Project phases

Phase 2 01.12.2015 - 30.06.2018   (Completed)

Phase 1 01.06.2011 - 31.07.2015   (Completed)