Several of the more comprehensive good practice databases that are accessible online have been reviewed and evaluated by FAO. Individual strengths and weaknesses of each database and comparison of all databases reviewed are given in the SARD Initiative Good Practice Database Evaluation Report, August 2006; highlights are summarised below.
European Commission's LIFE-Environment Database
STRENGTHSThe database is linked to a powerful search engine, examples of search fields are: free text search, year, submitting or benefiting country or region, keyword (375 descriptors), EU legislative area (environmental assessment, climate change, etc.), type of beneficiary (development agency, research institution, etc.), main type of project area (agricultural areas, coastal wetlands, etc), sector (waste management, etc.) habitat type (forest, western taiga, etc.), species (gymnospermae, arthropod, etc.), plus others.
Each project description is very articulate and clearly defines the background, objectives, results (only for completed projects), beneficiaries, partners involved and project manager’s contact details.
Each project description also includes a section “Read more” providing additional information such as reports, internet websites and relevant documentations.
Projects mainly focus on environmental conservation and management (principal contexts are agriculture, husbandry, forestry, fishery, climate, ecosystems, energy, industry, production, pollution, education, tourism, trade, services, transport, urban environment, waste, water, soil, geography, etc.).
Farming Solutions (Success stories for the future of agriculture)
STRENGTHSThe website allows inputting reports and stories on ecologically sound farming practices with the aim of creating common and sharable knowledge.
Success stories are organized into different geographical areas: Asia, Europe, Middle East and North Africa, Sub Saharan Africa, North America, Central America and Caribbean, South America, Oceania.
The stories are comprehensive and celebrate the huge diversity of ecologically sound and productive farming practices that are already being applied by farmers and their local communities. They range from experiences with community seed banks, bucket drip irrigation, wind pump fans, wetland management to systems for rice intensification.
Each practice has contact details.
There is no keyword search tool.
FAO Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) Database
STRENGTHSInformation is very detailed: each record has a short abstract and a link to an internal or external website, database or a pdf document, allowing access to comprehensive good agricultural practices.
The database can be browsed through a general keyword search in title and text, AGRIS categories (extension, labour and employment, forestry, etc.), country, region, farming systems (coastal artisanal fishing, pastoral, irrigated, etc.), GAP techniques (animal health and production, crop and fodder production, water, etc.), major contribution (food safety, environmental stability, etc.).
There are two additional and extremely useful search tools: technology success factors (addresses gender issues, generates income, maintain or increases biodiversity, etc.) and institutional success factors (access to inputs and resources, policy environment, etc.).
The link provided under the “details” section does not always directly open the information requested, but a website’s homepage. As a result the reader has to browse the linked site to find the publication, project descriptions or guidelines wanted.
Honey Bee Network (Knowledge network for augmenting grassroots innovations)
STRENGTHSThe Honey Bee Network brings together those creative and innovative farmers, artisans, mechanics, fishermen, women and labourers who have solved a problem through their own ingenuity without help from the state, market, or NGOs (while lack of assistance sometimes creates weaknesses, the method ensures that these are real field experiences).
It is possible to search the database by location, keywords or a list of predefined categories such as Biodiversity, Agronomy, Plant Breeding, Crop Protection, Soil Conservation, Weather Indicators, Global Innovations, etc.
Descriptions are often detailed.
It allows submission of innovations prior to verification.
The examples have been recorded primarily from India (where it is run by the Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions, SRISTI) but also from other parts of the world. The network includes 77 countries.
No contact details are provided on the owners or recorders of the practices.
STRENGTHSGood searching tools: country, ecoregion (lowlands, subtropics, continental temperate, etc.), theme (community forestry, animal production, energy, etc.), intervention (conservation, harvesting, storage, etc.), organization name, general keywords in practice title and content.
Each practice description has a section on “Relevant Contacts”, which clearly states the practice owner, recorder and responsible entities.
Information is gathered through independent inputs, data pass through country focal points for clearing and quality check before they are available to the public. Registration provides the right / privilege to enter data (which a non-registered user is not able to do).
Approximately 60% of the practices provide information on actual impacts;
Some practices imply that the reader would understand abbreviations and short-cuts with no spelling. The English style is not always good.
The Livestock and Rangeland Knowledgebase (International Fund for Agricultural Development - IFAD)
STRENGTHSThe Knowledgebase provides easily accessible information on 48 projects and offers a deeper, thematic insight into IFAD's livestock-related activities and lessons learned.
The database can be browsed by region, country, activity (grazing management, rural finance, land improvement, etc.), theme (livestock health, risk management, etc.), livestock type (alpaca, fish, yak, etc.), animal health (parasite, deworming, rinderpest, etc.), animal feed (pasture, legume, minerals, etc.), animal breed (artificial insemination, cross-breeding, etc.), production management (husbandry, overgrazing, etc.).
There is a section on lessons learned from livestock and rangeland projects, which allows access to the knowledge that IFAD has gained in thematic, operational and technical dimensions of projects. Lessons learned can be found by thematic, operational and technical keywords.
Each project description provides detailed information on objectives, activities, beneficiaries, outcome, access to inputs and infrastructures, risk management, herd improvement, animal health and lessons learned.
A list of reports is attached to each project description, however they are not downloadable.
TECA (Technology for Agriculture, FAO)
STRENGTHSThe interactive knowledge-based information management system allows for dynamic content generation and decentralised management.
Partner organizations share their technologies in a framework for technology transfer, within a common standard for description. In addition, TECA offers an array of tools where partners can manage and systematize their own inputs.
It allows access to proven technologies that have been successfully applied in particular contexts that could be adapted and disseminated in similar biophysical, socioeconomic and human environment, and farming systems.
Records can be browsed and searched by technology title, products (rice, bamboo, poultry, etc.), production technologies (crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry, etc.), post harvest activities in different sectors (animal products, natural resources, etc.), technical, socio-cultural, financial, economic and environmental attributes (addresses gender issues and income, improves efficient utilization of scarce resources, etc.), factors underlying successful adoption of technologies (policy environment, ownership by end users, access to inputs and resources, etc.), farming system (irrigated, coastal artisanal fishing, etc.), country.
It focuses only on technologies and does not include good practices in its database.
UN-CSD Success Stories
STRENGTHSThe CSD success stories demonstrates the level and extent of Major Groups involvement in issues related to agriculture, integrated planning and management of land resources, financial resources, trade and investment and economic growth, as well as overriding issues such as changing consumption and production patterns, poverty alleviation, education and capacity building.
The collection is based on project descriptions and activities that have led to tangible results and have a potential for replication elsewhere. It was compiled with the aim of sharing positive experiences and drawing lessons that can be disseminated around the world.
Each story describes the issues addressed, results achieved and lessons learned.
There is no search tool to look into the 243 success stories. They are divided by year of collection and organized differently: collections of 1997 and 2001 are organized by region, collections of years from 1998 and 2000 are organized by themes (small islands and developing states, freshwater management, tourism and sustainable development, industry, etc.).
United Nations' Best Practices Database in improving the living environment
STRENGTHSThe Best Practices and Local Leadership Programme (BLP) is a global network of institutions dedicated to the identification and exchange of successful solutions for sustainable development. The BLP partners' network has the task of identifying initiatives; those meeting the criteria for a Best Practice are included in the database.
Lessons learned from selected best practices are analysed in case studies and guides and transferred to other countries, cities or communities.
Powerful search engine, examples of search tools are: year, category (poverty reduction, water and sanitation, environmental sustainability, etc.), subcategory (ecological sustainability, indicators of sustainability, land use planning, etc.) language, region, country, geography (global, state, city, village, etc.), city size, ecosystem, practice type (best, good, promising, in revision, etc.).
Each project description includes a summary and detailed information on objectives, strategies, processes, impacts, sustainability factors, lessons learned, elements for transferability as well as contact details of different partners involved.
Project descriptions are consistent and allow easy extrapolation of good practices.
Not all projects are strictly relevant to SARD.
WISARD (Web-based Information Platform for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development)
It is a public domain information platform that provides user-friendly searchable information on 3790 projects conducted around the world in ARD from the mid-nineties to the present, 6000 organizations and experts in the field of Agricultural Research for Development (ARD), Natural Resource Management and Sustainable Development.
It allows decentralized data input and management. Focal points at organization, network or national level are responsible for data input and management on-line.
Each project has information on funding and coordinating organizations.
Information on projects are searchable by full text searches on project title and content, by region, country, organization (coordinating, funding and/or partner) and by classification which include general ARD keyword, thematic focus keyword, agro-ecological zone, IPM specific keyword, forestry specific keywords, AGRIS/CARIS research themes and network/programme/association.
It is also possible to search by biophysical focus (biological resources, water or land resources, etc.), socio-economic focus (legislation/policies, production systems, economics, etc.), production chain focus (diseases/pest, harvest, marketing, etc.), commodity group focus (fruits and nuts, fish and fish products, medical plants and products, etc.), and project status.
It is directly integrated with InterSard, a web-based information system for sharing information and knowledge on good practises and local innovations in Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resources Management.
Small amounts of information are available on each project.
No information on impacts is provided.
The World Bank Group – Indigenous Knowledge Program
Includes a database on indigenous/traditional knowledge and practices with over 300 case studies.
The database can be searched by country, sector (agriculture, environment and telecommunication, etc.), domain (energy, education, etc.), technology (intellectual property rights, farming systems, conflict resolution, etc.) and general keywords.
Includes a series of newsletters entitled "IK Notes" which present in some detail, locally driven solutions to complex problems (75 issues published up to now).
Program is very relevant to the SARD Initiative because it sponsors and organises community exchanges, community knowledge fairs, indigenous knowledge seminars.
Geographic distribution is limited to Africa.
Practice description is limited to 250 words.
General keyword searching tool does not work.