EXTRAPOLATE (EX-ante Tool for RAnking POLicy AlTErnatives) arose out of the need for a decision support tool to assess the impact of different policy measures. By disaggregating the effects of policy interventions the tool facilitates discussion of the relevant issues and enables users to visualize the predicted impacts of policy or technical interventions, based on numerical analysis. The tool serves as a “filter” that allows the user to sift through, in an ex-ante fashion, a range of policy measures to identify those that could be applied in a specific situation to achieve particular outcomes that further particular development objectives. This would be the first step in assessing potential impact before looking at identified entry points in more detail. Mainstream economics has a wide array of tools to assess these sorts of policy changes in a rigorous and quantitative fashion (such as policy analysis matrices, computable general equilibrium models, etc.). The tool has the further characteristic that it is participatory in nature, encouraging stakeholder involvement and discussion around the likely impact of interventions.
In essence, for a particular theme (e.g. a dairy sector) relatively homogeneous “stakeholder groups” are first identified (a commodity chain approach can be helpful in deciding who is involved and where), and these groups are assigned a livelihood status (or some other currency of “wellbeing”). The constraints that they face in relation to the particular theme are then identified and linked by scoring their relevance to the different groups. “Outcomes” are then identified as the measurable effects of relaxing these constraints, and the impact of these outcomes on livelihood status is estimated.

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Thus the present (ex-ante) situation is described, and technical, policy or institutional interventions (entry points) can then be introduced. Their effects are estimated in terms of their impacts on constraints, which result in certain outcomes, which, in turn, influence the livelihood status of the different stakeholder groups.

The EXTRAPOLATE tool was developed under the Pro-Poor Livestock Policy Initiative (PPLPI), originally to explore the effects of policy interventions. In that context it was field tested with partners in each of the PPLPI focus areas; exploring the impact of policy change in the dairy sector in Uganda, the small ruminant sector in Andhra Pradesh and Senegal, the pig sector in Vietnam and in the camelid sector in Peru.
It has recently been adapted to look at a much broader set of potential entry points in the context of prioritizing interventions in the Humidtropics CGIAR CRP, bur has broad applicability across other CRPs.