04 October 2009

Knowledge sharing and innovation among African pastoralists

A recent report by the Future Agricultures Consortium provides some very interesting insights into knowledge creation and sharing in the innovation systems of pastoralists in Ethiopia and Kenya.

The authors report on discussions that were held at the ‘University of the Bush’ - under some trees next to a tented camp.

Some 'striking features' and challenges that emerged form the discussions include:
  • There is a huge amount of innovation going on, but it is not recorded and often not shared.
  • Sharing can be limited by the restrictive practices of certain holders
    of specialised knowledge – especially traditional healers of livestock.
  • There are gaps between ‘the community’ – and organised groups within local communities –and the formal veterinary service ... There is a need for an intermediary, someone who can help bridge the formal and informal knowledge systems and make links between them, facilitating access to services and expertise.
  • Formal research is very distant from the local setting. While NGOs, extension workers and other project staff are present, they are not connected to research. As a result, they often do not know up-to-date information.
  • Formal innovation through the government and aid system and informal innovation through elders and the local community are often very separate, and sometimes are in conflict.
  • Informal innovation can often be hidden from view, and is rarely recognised by outsiders.

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