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Participation in Existing Networks

In order to take maximum advantage of existing networks and the networking experience of the libraries visited a brief resume follows of those information networks in which the libraries are currently involved. A regional cooperation network between aquatic farming systems information centres in Africa should not involve a duplication of effort or competition with existing information networks. The aim should be to improve access to information by means of cooperation and to complement or strengthen existing networks.

Where constraints and strengths of the different networks are mentioned, these apply only within the context of the needs of an aquatic farming systems information network. The only partners listed are those visited by the mission.

1. AGRIS : International Information System for the Agricultural Sciences and Technology

Coordinated by FAO Library and Documentation Systems Division and currently 150 countries, 16 international and 10 regional centres participate. Input is mainly prepared using the Micro CDS/ISIS software and the AGRIN package is supplied by FAO to facilitate this.

Strengths: Multilingual database with coverage of the broad subject areas relevant to aquatic farming systems. Input centres in all countries visited. Wide dissemination of the whole database.

African Partners include:

Cote d�Ivoire : Via REDACI - CRO; IDESSA.


Malawi: Bunda College of Agriculture. (In cooperation with Chitedze)

Zimbabwe: Ministry of Agriculture Central Library ;Via ZIMAGRINET - ALCOM, DNPWM

2. ASFA : Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts

Coordinated by FAO Fisheries Department and involving 6 other international organizations and 23 national partners. Input has recently gone over to a Micro CDS/ISIS package known as ASFISIS which is distributed by FAO.

Constraints: So far in english only. One input centre in Africa. Database not widely distributed in Africa.

Strengths: Most comprehensive coverage of aquaculture literature internationally, including African aquaculture.

African Partners include: Kenya - KMFRI / RECOSCIX-WIO

3. IAMSLIC : International Association of Marine and Aquatic Science Libraries and Information Centers, Africa Regional Group

The association provides a forum for the exchange of experience and expertise via annual international meetings, regional meetings, a Newsletter, electronic bulletin board and the Worl Wide Web. It has as one of its objectives to promote cooperation and sharing of resources among libraries and information centers which specialize in any aspect of aquatic science --freshwater, brackish and marine. The Africa Regional Group has 32 members in 15 countries and the Chair is currently at CRODT, Senegal.

Partners include:

Cote d�Ivoire : CRO


Zimbabwe : ALCOM

4. PADIS : Pan African Development Information System

Activities include assistance to African member states and institutions to build their capacity in the management of information services and systems. Training is provided in the use of Micro CDS/ISIS software and PADIS methodologies. A sub-regional centre in Zambia coordinates ESADIS, the Eastern and Southern Africa Development Information System.

Partners include: Mali : INSAH

5. RECOSCIX - CEA : Regional Cooperation in Scientific Information Exchange in the Central Eastern Atlantic

During the 3rd Session of the IOC Regional Committee for the Central Eastern Atlantic, Dakar, Senegal, January 1993, the Delegate of Cote d�Ivoire introduced the RECOSCIX-CEA project proposal. This involved a pilot phase of two years with the objective to establish the regional network, its services and products, based along the lines of the RECOSCIX-WIO network. The Regional Committee endorsed the project for the initial pilot phase which was launched in April 1993 at CRO, Abidjan, and ran until May 1995. During this phase the necessary office space, staff and computer equipment for the regional despatch centre were allocated. Micro CDS/ISIS software and the ASFA CD ROM were installed and training provided.

Constraints: Lack of funding has not enabled the network to progress beyond the initial pilot phase. The existing level of cooperation between the libraries in the region which were identified as participants appears to be minimal. CRO is under the impression that IOC is trying to locate a donor and that until one is found they are not in a position to further the aims of the network.

African Partners include: Cote d�Ivoire : CRO, IDESSA

6. RECOSCIX - WIO : Regional Cooperation in Scientific Information Exchange in the Western Indian Ocean Region

The network is fully described in the mission report. This IOC/UNESCO Project funded by Belgium since 1991 and implemented in collaboration with KMFRI by the Limburg University Centre operates jointly with the above library. There are 61 co-operating institutions and 23 co-operating libraries. Member countries are Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Somalia and Tanzania.

During the actual second phase of the project (1996-99),the focus will be on library services and on services in data management, in particular the distribution of mass data using CD-ROM technology. In 1995 KMFRI/ RECOSCIX-WIO became a regional input centre for the ASFA database.

Constraints: The activities of the network and most of the RECOSCIX staff are totally dependent on external funding and the sustainability of the network without this is a recurring worry. The fact that the onus for collecting publications, creating the databases and despatching requests or documents all rests with KMFRI has not resulted in a network based on true partnership.

Strengths: A high profile has given RECOSCIX-WIO good intra- and inter-regional contacts which assisted KMFRI in building up a good library which acts as an information resource for the region. The involvement of collaborating libraries in North America, Europe and Asia allows RECOSCIX to fulfil many of the requests for documents without cost, as well as attracting donations of publications from many libraries.

Partners include: Kenya : KMFRI, RECOSCIX.

7. REDACI : Reseau National de Documentation Agricole en Cote d�Ivoire

Created in 1986 the network now comprises 32 partners representing a large majority of the agricultural sector institutions in Cote d�Ivoire. The main output of the network is the REDACI database, which currently contains about 11,000 records. Other output products include a union list of periodicals ; general or specialised bibliographies ; extracts from the SESAME and TROPAG CD ROMs ; a directory of the resources of agricultural documentation in Cote d�Ivoire. Donor support has been provided in the form of a microcomputer through the CTA CD ROM program.

Constraints: Lack of funding means that the network is totally dependent upon the cooperation and enthusiasm of members and the ability and willingness of their parent institutions to finance travel to meetings and development of the network. Recent economic difficulties in Cote d�Ivoire have resulted in the the loss of seven REDACI partners due to the merging or closing of government institutions. Lack of direct access to the whole database for all of the partner institutions is a disadvantage.

Strengths: Very clear objectives which benefit all of the participating institutions and serve the agricultural sector as a whole.

Partners include: CRO ; IDESSA

8. REMADOC: Reseau Malien d�Information et de Documentation Scientifiques et Techniques

This national network of all research institutions in the agricultural sector is coordinated by IER. Records are supplied to a central Micro CD/ISIS database using the BABINAT format.

Partners include: IER ; Division Peche et Pisciculture

9. RESADOC: Reseau Sahelien d�Information et de Documentation Scientifiques et Techniques

The network is fully described in the Mission Report. The RESADOC network, which started its activities in 1979, covers twenty broad subject areas and provides a regional resource of information and documentation related to the Sahel. National documentation centres nominated by CILSS in Mauritania, Chad, Cape Verde, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Mali, Niger and Guinea Bissau have the responsibility to collect relevant publications and provide catalogue records to INSAH, which then incorporates them into RESADOC. The database contains over 22,000 records, of which only about 1% relate to fisheries or aquaculture. Outputs from the database include the annual RESINDEX and specialised bibliographies. RESADOC has been maintained up to now using MINISIS software but INSAH has recently converted to Micro CDS/ISIS, with some difficulties. An evaluation of RESADOC by IDRC in 1995 resulted in a decision by CILSS to restructure and revitalize the network. The information programme at INSAH has been re-structured in the new Sahelian Communication Project (PROSACOM). The staff of national centres are meeting at INSAH in November 1996 to review the methodologies used and to address the needs of the input centres in the light of technological developments. RESADOC has also in the past cooperated with AGRIS, although the problems of compatibility between the systems continues. Much of the content of RESADOC is outside of the scope of AGRIS and it is considered to be more relevant and targetted towards the information needs of the CILSS members.

Constraints: The different languages of the Sahelian countries, as well as institutional problems at the national input centres, have always posed problems for RESADOC. The fact that much of the work was centralised at one institution has led to an imbalance in the decision-making processes, with the national centres not having the status of true partners. Technological developments have overtaken developments of network activities.

Strengths: The recent review and ongoing re-structuring of the network should rectify some of the above problems. RESADOC serves a poor, also in information resources, region of Africa. It provides a regional information resource, targetted to the specific needs of the Sahel.

Partners include: Mali: INSAH ; IER

10. SAAINET: Southern African Agricultural Information Network

The network was initiated at a meeting sponsored by the the Southern African Centre for Cooperation in Agricultural Research and Training (SACCAR) in July 1995. The objective of the meeting was to explore ways by which efficient and sustainable agricultural documentation and information networks could be established in the Southern African Development Community region, taking into account the diversity of national agricultural and documentation information situations. To this end, a Southern African Agricultural Information Network was proposed.

Partners include:

Malawi - Bunda College

Zimbabwe - Ministry of Agriculture Central Library

11. ZIMAGRINET : Zimbabwe Agricultural Information Network

A national network of agricultural libraries established with the support of FAO in 1993. The network is coordinated by the Ministry of Agriculture Library and participants should submit database records using AGRIN and CARIN formats of Micro CDS/ISIS. According to the coordinator the network is not operational.

Partners include: Ministry of Agriculture Central Library ; ALCOM ; DNPWM

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