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About SD

November 2003

Announcement of a new publication

Understanding the indigenous knowledge and information systems of pastoralists in Eritrea

by Alessandro Dinucci
and Zeremariam Fre

in collaboration with the
Pastoral and Environmental Network in the Horn of Africa (PENHA) and the
Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Perugia, Italy

Despite the fact that nomadic herders are amongst the most food insecure groups, pastoral systems have received little attention from research and extension services. Within this framework, almost no attention has been focused on pastoralists' indigenous knowledge and information systems, limiting the chances of achieving success in pastoral development programmes. For centuries, indigenous knowledge has been the only source of information for pastoral societies. This knowledge is based on experiential learning, evolves constantly and is shared through local communication processes according to the characteristics of pastoral production practices, their cultures and the environment. The indigenous knowledge of nomadic herders' is often neglected by extension and research services mainly focussing on agricultural production. Only recently has it been recognized that successful development interventions with pastoralists must address their particular knowledge and information needs, as well as the communication processes through which they are exchanged.

Knowledge, information and communication are key components for improving pastoral livelihood. In particular, communication activities can: promote participation and action establishing a dialogue between pastoralists, development workers, researchers, local authorities and national decision makers; facilitate the sharing of information through appropriate media in order to improve access to pastoral development programmes and services (e.g. veterinary services, vaccination campaigns, etc.); and enhance extension and training activities.

Within the framework of the activities carried out by FAO's Extension, Education and Communication Service in the area of knowledge and communication for sustainable natural resource management, a new case-study entitled "Understanding the indigenous knowledge and information systems of pastoralists in Eritrea" has recently been published. It was prepared by Alessandro Dinucci and Zeremariam Fre, in collaboration with the Pastoral and Environmental Network in the Horn of Africa (PENHA) and the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Perugia, Italy.

The publication presents the extensive indigenous knowledge of the Beni Amer, a semi-sedentary pastoralist ethnic group of Eritrea, which maintains traditional animal production, animal husbandry and ethno-veterinary practices. The publication intends to contribute to the definition of demand-led communication and advisory services aimed at nomadic herders, through a better understanding of their indigenous knowledge on livestock production and natural resources management, and their own sources and channels of information, as a prerequisite for future field activities. For further information please contact: SDRE@fao.org

Click here to see the publication (pdf format).



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