Information and Communication Technologies, Knowledge Management and Indigenous Knowledge


6 Νοε 2013 (πριν από 4 χρόνια και 8 μήνες)

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Information and Communication
Technologies, Knowledge
Management and Indigenous

Implications for Communities
in Ethiopia

Lishan Adam, PhD

Research ICT Africa

19 April 2007


Information and communication
technologies and IK

Community structures for promoting
IK systems in Ethiopia

Knowledge Management and
Indigenous Knowledge systems

Best practices around the world


“In Africa, when an old man dies, it is a library that burns down.”

Amadou Hampâté Bâ

What is indigenous

Profound, detailed and shared knowledge,
beliefs and rules with regards to the physical
resource, social norms, health, ecosystem,
culture, livelihood of the people who interact with
environment both in rural and urban settings

Knowledge that forms basis for local level
decision making in agriculture, health care, food
preparation, education, natural resource
management, and a host of other activities

Indigenous knowledge

Dynamic and evolved from
years of experience and
error problem
solving by groups of people
working in their
environments drawing upon
resources they have at hand

Often shunned by modern
scientific knowledge

What are some roles of the

include telecommunications technologies such as
telephony, cable, satellite and radio, as well as digital
technologies, such as computers, information networks
and software


Enable capturing, storing and sharing of indigenous

Support the incorporation of indigenous knowledge with
modern scientific and technical knowledge

Create easily accessible indigenous knowledge information

Promote integration of indigenous knowledge in formal and
formal training

Provide a platform for advocating for improved benefit of the
poor from their intellectual property rights and indigenous

Characteristics of IK that impact on

IK is generated within communities

IK is location and culture specific

IK is part of the local ecosystem

IK covers human and animal life, primary production,
natural resource management (basic needs)

Use of IK is cost
effective, sustainable and locally

IK is dynamic , innovative, adaptive and open for

IK is oral and rural in nature

IK is not systematically documented

IK is not integrated into modern scientific and technical

Challenges in applying ICTs

All IK does not require ICTs

can be captured on paper,

Knowledge holder often do not volunteer their knowledge

IK databases and capturing process is laborious and time

Significant unresolved intellectual property issues and
challenges especially if the traditional knowledge leads to
corporate gains

People who need IK may not have access to the
technologies to make use of them

Those who read IK or access to databases are biased
towards modern knowledge

Need to put in place and strengthen community structures
that promote the flow of IK

Community Structures for IK


Recent practice focuses on the
development of IK databases and
encourage their use by target

The model was not successful
in many cases

Important to encourage the flow and
systematic gathering of IK through
existing community structure such
as “idir”, “iqub”, community
resources centres, community
libraries, etc.

Less high
tech approach to IK by
focusing on index of what works,
where to find and whom to contact

Role of Libraries and IRCs

Collecting, preserving and disseminate indigenous and
local traditional knowledge

Publicizing the value, contribution, and importance of
indigenous and local traditional knowledge to both non
indigenous and indigenous peoples

Raising awareness on the protection of indigenous
knowledge against exploitation

Involving elders and communities in the production of
resources and teaching children to understand and
appreciate the traditional knowledge

Encouraging the recognition of principles of intellectual
property to ensure the proper protection and use of
indigenous traditional knowledge and products derived
from it.

Role of MPCCs

Venue for ICT introduction to community

Platform for sharing digitized IK

Platform for trying new technologies and
tools out

Community broadcasting can be used for
exchange of IK

Role of Community Based

Community based social
capital structure such
as “idir” and “iqub” have been platforms for
exchange of IK

Can be used to capture and exchange
knowledge or develop indices of IK on “what
works” and “what does not”, who holds relevant
knowledge and how to contact them in electronic
and non
electronic formats

Form the basis of IK systems in Ethiopia

Example of Best Practices 1

Honey Bee Network

Gathered over 11,000 IK innovations in India

Provide venture funds to turn ideas and
practices into product


Establish competition on recipes for women

Protection of intellectual property rights and
rewarding innovators

Annual innovators meeting, market place

Promotion of changes into the educational

Example of Best Practice 2

Policy development in South Africa

IK policy approved by Cabinet in 2004

Covers aspects such as

Institutional and governance arrangement

Gathering and preserving IK

Networks and support mechanism for IK

Research and development

Intellectual property rights

Lesson for KM for Development

Tacit knowledge

unconscious and intuitive knowledge gained
through experience that allows individuals to make decisions without
referring to rules or principles (e.g. knowing how to perform medical
operations, knowing how to network at a conference);

Explicit knowledge

that is articulated and accessible to anyone
who reads, hears or looks at it (e.g. a training guide on using a
software package or the conclusions of a policy briefing paper);

Implicit knowledge
helps individuals know what is socially and
culturally appropriate in a given circumstance including shared
beliefs, values and expectations (e.g. knowing that it is inappropriate
to undermine colleagues in public, understanding management
attitudes within a given organization)

Indigenous knowledge is mainly tacit/implicit. That makes is hard for
capturing and exchange

Biggest lesson was

understanding the nature of indigenous knowledge

Lesson from Km for
development 2

Sharing knowledge is possible but that does not always translate
into use for taking decisions, making informed actions and modifying
behaviors in order to achieve development goals.

Effective knowledge sharing should not be imposed from outside but
should be organic, learned and has to be embedded into work
processes, local eco systems and livelihoods

Experiences from which most knowledge emerges, have local
particularities like context, actors and processes. This limits the way
local knowledge can be generalized and replicated in other settings

Valuable local knowledge is often not locally known nor socially
recognized. This is partially constrained by myths, old paradigms,
cultural idiosyncrasies and prejudices of professionals and

The interaction between modern and traditional knowledge is
desired but too complex to realize


Focus on IK would help the poor to build on resources in
which they are rich


Ethiopia needs to embark on various steps

Create forums of institutions and networking among

Research on mapping IK asset (medicinal plants),
barriers, community and social structures

Strategies for identifying and document IK and
institutional and support initiatives

National register on IK, rewarding innovators, integrating
IK in educational systems

Capacity building in IK and knowledge management

IK policy based on developing country experiences

Rabbit, where are you going?

I am going to kill the Elephant (IK).

Can you do that?

Well, I’ll try, and try again.’

Tanzanian, Proverb…

Thank you