Harnessing Indigenous Knowledge
for Development
Presentation to UNCTAD
Conference on Traditional Knowledge
November 1, 2000
Nicolas Gorjestani
Chief Knowledge & Learning Officer
Africa Region, The World Bank
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Nicolas Gorjestani, The World Bank
Overview
 Development case for IK
 World Bank’s IK Program
 The way forward
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Nicolas Gorjestani, The World Bank
Knowledge is
experience,
everything
else is
information
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Nicolas Gorjestani, The World Bank
IK Affects People’s Lives
Herbal medicine is an excellent example
of IK that has affected lives around the
globe...
…but there is much more to it !
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Nicolas Gorjestani, The World Bank
In the Development Process...
Indigenous knowledge could help to increase:
 efficiency
 IK is cost effective
 IK uses appropriate technology
 effectiveness
 IK is locally managed
 IK reaches the poor
 sustainability
 IK provides for mutual adaptation & learning
 IK empowers local communities
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Nicolas Gorjestani, The World Bank
In the Development Process...
Indigenous knowledge could also contribute to:
 raising agricultural production
 Indigenous soil conservation technology (Burkina Faso)
 increasing value of education systems
 Local language instruction improves literacy skills (Mali)
 improving quality of health care
 Traditional Birth Attendants help reduce maternal mortality (Uganda)
 good governance
 Local institutions lead post-conflict land re-allocation (Mozambique)
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Nicolas Gorjestani, The World Bank
Role of Development Partners
Development organizations are not storehouses
of universally applicable knowledge just waiting
to be transferred.
That is why they should help:
empower communities to use global & local
knowledge
connect communities to one another and to other
sources of experience
learn with them what works in a given setting &
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facilitate adaptation with modern technology
Nicolas Gorjestani, The World Bank
Empowerment
Communities shape own development agenda by
 actively participating in development dialogue
 determining research agendas
 enhancing good governance
 integrating indigenous knowledge in development
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Nicolas Gorjestani, The World Bank
Enablement
Helping local practitioners and communities to:





exchange knowledge of local practices
build traditional knowledge networks
engage authorities, researchers & experts
dialogue with development partners
leverage traditional & modern knowledge
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Nicolas Gorjestani, The World Bank
Empowerment through
Enablement
Building on traditional knowledge systems
learn
hear
listen
exchange
engage
connect
Learning from communities Helping communities learn
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Nicolas Gorjestani, The World Bank
Genesis of IK Program

Global Knowledge Conference 1997
 vision of truly global knowledge partnership
will be realized only when the poor participate
as both users and contributors of knowledge

Client Feed Back Surveys
 40 percent “knowledge adaptation gap”
 look for what works in communities
 Partnerships (bilateral & international
organizations , NGOs, CBOs)
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Nicolas Gorjestani, The World Bank
What we have done to date...
 IK practices data base (>200 cases)
 “IK Notes” publication (26 in print & Internet)
 “IK Report: A Framework for Action”
 Multi-lingual Website: www.worldbank.org/afr/ik/default.htm
 Enhanced capacity of IK centers in 8 countries
 Capacity building to develop National IK Strategies (Uganda)
 Integrating IK into Bank-supported projects
 “Knowledge Packs”
 IK Topic on Global Development Gateway
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Nicolas Gorjestani, The World Bank
IK in Bank-supported Projects
 Agricultural Research & Training Project II (Uganda)
 Lake Malawi Environment (Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania)
 Conservation and Sustainable Use of Medicinal Plants (Ethiopia)
 Northern Savana Biodiversity Conservation (Ghana)
 Management of Forests and Adjacent Lands (Benin)
 Micro-watershed & Environment Management Program (Nigeria)
 Education & Community School Program (Mali)
 HIV/AIDS Multi-sector Project (Cameroon)
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Nicolas Gorjestani, The World Bank
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Nicolas Gorjestani, The World Bank
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Nicolas Gorjestani, The World Bank
The Way Forward
Need partnerships to help :
 Develop National Strategies on Utilization of IK
 Enhance capacity of national & regional IK networks
 Promote community-to-community exchanges
 Identify innovative mechanisms to protect IK
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Nicolas Gorjestani, The World Bank
Balanced Flow of Knowledge
Networks
Local
Global
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Nicolas Gorjestani, The World Bank
Building networks of IK practitioners
Farmers
Healers
Engage
Exchange
Learn
Influence
Hunters
Nicolas Gorjestani, The World Bank
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Leveraging Knowledge Networks
Researchers
WHO/ World
Bank Specialists
Ministry of Health
PHC providers
Doctors
Health Care
CBOs/ NGOs
Traditional
Healers
Pharmacists
Botanists
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Nicolas Gorjestani, The World Bank
Successful Adaptation
Successful
Leveraging
Uganda: RESCUER project in Iganga District




PHCs partner with traditional birth attendants
link attendants to health units thru ‘walkie-talkies’
attendants serve as referral points
more women receive health services
 Impact: maternal deaths declined by 50% in 3 years
Lesson: leveraging modern & traditional knowledge
systems can help to increase development impact
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Nicolas Gorjestani, The World Bank
Protection of IK: Some Principles
 Not all IK are patentable or subject to IPRs
 Documentation in written records a key to protection of IK
 Look for innovative forms of protection such as MTAs
 Emerging examples of fair& equitable benefit sharing (Cameroon)
 Regional agreements are potentially a cost effective form of
protection (1996 Andean Pact allows prior informed consent)
 Community-to-community exchanges a possible platform
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Nicolas Gorjestani, The World Bank
Concluding Remarks
 IK is a critical factor in sustainable development
 Empowerment & enablement of local communities is a
key to integrating IK into the development process
 Helping promote networks of traditional practitioners
& community-to-community exchanges is a way to
better disseminate good practices in IK
 Innovative mechanisms are needed to protect IK
 A regional approach is likely to be most cost effective
 World Bank is looking forward to partnerships to help
advance this agenda
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Nicolas Gorjestani, The World Bank
Harnessing Indigenous Knowledge
for Development
Thank you
www.worldbank.org/html/afr/ik/index.htm
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Nicolas Gorjestani, The World Bank
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