Austroprojekt tries to adapt its approach to the specific potentials and needs of the beneficiaries in order to guarantee a maximum of flexibility. The selected approach will always depend on socio-cultural and economic factors, prevailing production systems, regional market conditions, the availability of natural resources, and organisational capacity of the local partners.Participatory methods are used at all levels. Austroprojekt is respecting the traditional knowledge of its partners and beneficiaries and considering the “development process” as a constant exchange of knowledge in both directions. The promotion of beneficiaries’ participation goes beyond simple measures in the field of so-called “decentralisation”, as one has to empower people to be really in charge of their future. In long-term projects, extension services are operating on different levels: as we consider close contact with the target group as essential, we collaborate with their informal associations as well, providing support in organisational development. This has become even more important, as local beneficiaries are supposed to promote their own development projects and to decide on their implementation. Regarding training, we try to combine traditional knowledge with locally available expertise, as experience has shown that this provides better solutions and increases the target groups’ acceptance of innovations.

In the remaining long-term projects, our branch offices normally employ local extension teams for the project’s duration. In order to accumulate the acquired knowledge at the end of a project, we try to offer those local teams perspectives to continue their work as extension experts or independent consultants.

In addition to monitoring the project progress, specific socio-economic studies, surveys and internal project evaluations help to achieve the project goals or, in case of necessity, allow for mutually agreed reorientation. At the end of each triennial phase, the projects are subject to external evaluations.

We try to contribute to poverty reduction in rural areas not only by economic advancement but also by satisfying basic needs such as sanitation, health, and education, as sustainability in rural development implies not only poverty reduction, but also inversing rural-urban migration, promoting equality and employment as well as responding to the demand of increasing living standards, security and individual development, which make rural areas more attractive.

Sustainability is an integrated concept, consisting of agricultural development, economic diversification including artisans and services, gender equity, and conservation of natural resources. Environmental protection is a main issue in all projects, especially concerning agriculture and new technologies. The latter has to be appropriate and take into account not only the economic capacity of the target group, but social, cultural and ecological aspects as well. Adequate training in maintenance and handling will ensure that the related activities continue in an environmentally safe way also after the end of the project.

Austroprojekt constantly amplifies its efforts to promote gender equality. In feasibility and project design studies, we attach much importance to a sound analysis of gender issues. Austroprojekt also encourages the participation of women in microfinance schemes and in extension services, thus ensuring a sufficient proportion of women as beneficiaries of project output and as trainers in the local project teams. In case of projects in favour of women, regular gender analyses are having immediate effects on the project process. In all gender-sensitive projects, female members of the project team carry out internal evaluations, in order to ensure the respect of specific women’s preoccupations.


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