SADC delegates look at power of local knowledge


23-June-2009

The third SADC Indigenous Knowledge System (IKS) workshop – launched yesterday at the International Conference Centre – will allow member countries to focus on various issues related to homegrown rather than imported skills.

Delegates in a souvenir photograph with Seychellois guests

It is a continuation of the first and second workshops hosted by South Africa in 2004 and Zambia in 2007.

The main aim of the three-day session is to set up regional guidelines and a framework within and among member states to carry out the action plan for 2007-2009, agreed on during the last workshop.

It will also provide a much-needed platform for communities, corporations, non-governmental organisations and governments to engage in dialogue and seek the best balance between protecting and exploiting the IKS.
 
The workshop was launched by Minister for Community Development, Youth, Sports and Culture Vincent Meriton in the presence of Vice-President Joseph Belmont, cabinet ministers, leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Wavel Ramkalawan, South African Deputy Minister for Science and Technology Dereck Hanekom, government officials and diplomats.

Mr Meriton described indigenous knowledge as the base for information and unique to a society. He said it eases communication and local-level decision-making in areas such as agriculture, education and natural resources management.

Many good practices have proved the added value of indigenous knowledge in developing the socio-economic sector, he added.

He also gave examples of positive results of IKS application in several SADC member countries, notably Uganda, Malawi, Kenya and Seychelles.
Mr Meriton reminded the delegates that as part of our duty to protect the state of the planet for future generations, it is essential to use a range of tools and ways of doing so.

He also reminded them that even though science has made a lot of progress in various areas, it cannot meet all the needs of the communities in their development process.

Comparing the IKS with scientific knowledge, Mr Meriton said they are both important in their own right and are both integral parts of what constitutes global knowledge.

“Indigenous knowledge is essential to development and that is why it should be gathered and documented in a coherent manner,” he added.

This, he said, should be done at national and regional level and archived in databases that can be systematically classified.

He added that collecting and storing local knowledge should be supplemented with adequate dissemination. It should also be compared with global knowledge systems and exchanged among interested parties.

 

The idea for hosting the workshops on the IKS came out of the first SADC multidisciplinary festival of ministers of science and technology, held in Pretoria, South Africa, and also during an SADC workshop on policy development in Maputo, Mozambique – both held in 2003.

The expected outcomes of the workshop are:

 A breakdown of the progress of regional IKS policy development;

 Clear guidelines to help countries develop their national IKS policy/framework;

 Solutions for issues such as training, funding, infrastructure, research, documentation and other challenges hindering IKS development;

 Progress report on the action plan (2007-2009) to set up a regional framework for the protection of the IKS;

 A report that will inform governments, ministries and departments, key stakeholders and practitioners on the outcome of the workshop.

The working session will end tomorrow.

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