An example of Agricultural Extension through
Ibo Zimmermann, (Department of
Agriculture, Polytechnic of Namibia),
Marietjie de Klerk (Department
of Nature Conservation, Polytechnic of Namibia),
(Directorate of Extension and Engineering Services, Rundu)
IntroductionWhen students of the Department of Natural Resource
Management and Tourism at the Polytechnic of Namibia go out to learn with
community members they often make use of drama (Zimmermann 1998). Drama
can be a useful tool to include in agricultural extension. It can be
applied in a variety of ways (Bembridge 1991) such as:
allows for critical thinking because different viewpoints or alternatives
may be expressed. It also allows for expression of feelings in an
enjoyable and cooperative atmosphere. A further advantage is that because
it is only “play”, participants can be creative in their responses.
- Theatre to put across an extension message.
- Socio-dramas to get farmers to show their situation and perceptions.
- Roleplaying to explore options for development.
This article gives an example of a roleplay that was performed by
community members at Gongwa in Kavango Region. The roleplay was a way of
exploring options to cope with the major problem of water supply at
BackgroundOn 20 August 1998 the 22 students, who were taking the
course of Agricultural Extension in the diploma program at the Polytechnic
of Namibia, were led to Gongwa by some staff of DEES and FSR&E in the
Ministry of Agriculture. The Agricultural Extension Technician for the
area introduced the students to those community members who came to the
A short film was shown of some previous interactions between
Polytechnic students and community members. After an ice-breaker exercise
the students facilitated some exercises of Participatory Rapid Appraisal
(PRA - see Figure 1) from which the major problem faced by the community
was identified. Some community members were then asked to show the problem
through a roleplay.
FindingsThe major problem faced by the Gongwa community was that
of an unreliable water supply. At the time of our visit to Gongwa the
diesel engine at their borehole was broken down and only a small quantity
of water was being trucked in approximately once per week for use by the
As the roleplay proceeded a possible solution became apparent. This was
then incorporated into the roleplay
The roleplay was filmed by video camera and the re-play was then shown
to those community members who were interested to watch it. There was keen
interest amongst Gongwa residents to perform in the roleplay, including
one young man who had declined to participate in the ice-breaker exercise
- Some Gongwa residents come to fetch water at their water point.
- They find that their water point is dry and they start to blame the
member of the Gongwa water committee who is amongst them.
- He explains that the diesel engine for the pump is broken down and
they have to wait for Rural Water Supply to come and repair it, which
may still take many weeks.
- They all start to walk the seven kilometers to the neigbouring
village of Magcwa to ask for water there.
- By the time they arrive at Magcwa they are very tired but they are
happy to find a reliable hand-operated borehole pump.
- The Gongwa water committee member meets the chairperson of the
Magcwa water committee and explains the water problem back at Gongwa.
- The Magcwa water committee chairperson explains that he received
training from the NGO (now Lihepurura Kavango Trust), which helped them
to install the hand pump. If the pump breaks down then they are usually
able to repair it themselves, so they now have a reliable water supply.
- The Gongwa water committee member is happy to hear of this option
and wishes to suggest it to his people back at Gongwa.
- The Gongwa residents learn how to operate the hand pump in order to
fill their containers with water (see Figure 2).
- The long walk back to Gongwa is very heavy because of having to
carry the filled water containers along the sandy track (see Figure 3).
- On arrival back at Gongwa the water committee member tells his
people about the possibility to install a hand pump and to select one of
their members to be trained in its maintenance and repair.
- They are very happy to hear of this more reliable option and decide
to give it a try.
The film of the day’s interactions was received with a lot of interest
by the Gongwa community. Those who had performed in the roleplay
particularly enjoyed watching themselves in the film.
DiscussionCopies of the film were later provided to some
stakeholder organizations and their comments were sought.
The response from Rural Water Supply was that “It was a good video,
which can show that organised community can have their facilities
functioning well. The video could be improved through the following:
Include a text from the beginning to narrate what you want to show and
Show the broken engine/borehole.
Show three different scenarios:
Make a conclusion at the end.
Translate if possible.
- an organised community with no water which is trying to solve its
- an organised community with water and well functioning boreholes
because their people are responsible through their water point
- an unorganised community without water.
Rural Water Supply have acted positively and drilled a new borehole”.
They did not specify whether the new borehole would be equipped with a
hand pump or not, but later we learnt that it will be equipped with
another diesel engine.
The response from Lihepurura Kavango Trust was that “Although the film
is very short, it is useful for community development, specifically for
community mobilization, organising and establishing of Water Point
Committees as well as for communities to understand the importance of
technology choice, e.g. what is practical for them, an engine or a hand
pump, in terms of maintenance. The water committee at Gongwa didn’t yet
approach us for assistance in this regard, but we believe that the height
of the water table at this place is suitable for a hand pump.” (Haingura
The response from the Gongwa community was that the exercise was
enjoyable and they learnt something from it. They are quite happy because
Rural Water Supply have drilled a new borehole, even though it is not yet
ConclusionThis approach to agricultural extension can attract the
interest of some members of rural communities. However its novelty may
wear thin if it is not followed up by repeated contact with the community.
The excitement of the roleplay and filming may raise people’s
expectations, but this may then be followed by disappointment if not
The Polytechnic of Namibia is able to encourage communities to explore
options for development, but is unable to provide the frequent contact
with communities required for initiating action. Therefore partnerships
are sought with development organizations whose staff have close contact
with communities, or whose staff are also members of the target
communities, so that they may provide the necessary follow-up support.
AcknowledgementsSincere thanks go to the community members of
Gongwa and Magcwa who participated in the exercises, to the staff of
FSR&E and DEES, headed by Mr Horn and Ms Antindi, and to Lihepurura
Kavango Trust and Rural Water Supply in Rundu.
ReferencesBEMBRIDGE, T.J. (1991) The practice of agricultural
extension - A training manual. Halfway House: Development Bank of Southern
HAINGURA, A. Personal Communication. Lihepurura Kavango Trust.
ZIMMERMANN, I. (1998) Participatory search for eco-friendly solutions
to development needs of some Namibian communities. Proceedings of the Best
of Both Worlds Environmental Education Conference, Dikhololo, South