Nikinake: the mobilization of labour and skill development in rural Ethiopia
A public mobilization approach known as nikinake drives implementation and technology upscaling in Ethiopia's agricultural extension. This study investigates and describes the processes and effectiveness of nikinake as an extension method used for natural resource management (NRM). The paper draws on empirical field research conducted in Oromia and the southern region of Ethiopia by looking at nikinake in the context of a watershed management campaign in 2015 and 2016. Nikinake is used as an approach to mobilize the public and to promote the skills of farmers and development actors. In principle, the implementation of NRM is voluntary; however, it is largely planned top‐down and enforced through state actors and informal institutions. This study suggests effective integration of social mobilization with reliable extension and a paradigm shift in emphasis from spatial coverage to an effective outcome. Additionally, sustainability and scalability of NRM interventions could be ameliorated by improving experts’ technical skills, raising farmers’ awareness, improving an incentive system, building trust, and better integrating past watershed management and future planning activities. We reflect on the significance of the nikinake experience in Ethiopia for a broader theory of extension‐as‐mobilization for rural development. From the Ethiopian case, a more general recommendation emerges for extension‐as‐mobilization schemes. For long‐term development, it is worthwhile to consider the fit between yearly campaigns as ad hoc project organizations and the existing pattern of actors and institutions responsible for rural development.