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Proposal for a Regional Project:

Establishment of an Aquatic Farming Systems Information Network for Africa

Project Title: Establishment of an Aquatic Farming Systems Information Network for Africa

Starting Date: June 1997

Completion Date: December 1998

Government Ministries and Institutions responsible for project execution:

Côte d'Ivoire - Ministère de l�Enseignement et de la Recherche Scientifique

Malawi - University of Malawi

Mali - Ministère du Développement Rural et de l'Environnement

Nigeria - Ministry of Education

Kenya - Ministry of Research, Technical Training and Technology

Zimbabwe - Ministry of Environment and Tourism

South Africa - Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology

Comité Permanent Inter-Etats de Lutte contre la Sécheresse dans le Sahel (CILSS)


1.1 Background

In Africa, sub-Saharan aquaculture is still little developed and contributes only 0.2 percent of world production. But nevertheless its production has been steadily increasing, for example from about 9 000 t in 1984 to about 40 000 t in 1994, an average annual growth rate of 16 percent. The estimated monetary value of this production now reaches about USD 75 million to which should be added unaccounted but important nutritional and sociological benefits.

Together with the 12 countries responsible for 90 percent of aquaculture production in sub-Saharan Africa (excl. South Africa), a recent FAO/ECA/EU study has identified the main constraints to aquaculture development (CIFA Tech. Rep. 23, 1994). By matching these constraints with identified aquaculture development priorities and research priorities through a logical process, they could be classified into four broad development priority areas, one of them being Aquaculture Information.

Eight regional research programmes were then designed to meet the identified aquaculture development priorities in each of these priority areas, most of them being formulated at the regional level to address constraints within and among the five sub-Saharan agro-ecological regions. A ninth programme, Information, was formulated to guide and support these regional research networks which need to have direct access to past and present development/research data. It was proposed that an improved information flow throughout Africa be facilitated at least in its two main official languages, English and French.

It was felt that an Information Network made of geographically separated but closely linked anglophone and francophone information centres would be more effective at collecting, storing and disseminating relevant information, both on a sub-regional and regional basis. From past experience, it is known that for such an Information Network to be effective and sustainable it should:

If the purpose of such an Information Network is to support the identified research programmes (e.g socio-economics, integrated aquaculture/animal husbandry, aquaculture integrated with irrigation schemes, fish production enhancement in small water bodies) and to serve aquaculture development activities in general, the approach to information needs should be multidisciplinary. It should address not only aquaculture technology but the production system as a whole. This involves all non-living and living components of the environment, including the producers themselves. Although fish production through small to medium scale freshwater aquaculture and the management of small water bodies should remain the central focus of the African information network, it would be essential to be able to access also information on rural sociology, agricultural economics, human nutrition and food security, water and soil conservation, rural extension methods/services, environmental impact, etc.

1.2 Justification

The diversity of institutions and the range of research programmes which they cover is indicative of the multidisciplinary nature of aquatic farming systems itself, ranging from the more technical aspects of aquaculture (i.e. fish production) to the sociological, environmental and economic aspects of rural development and the communities involved in the activity. It is also indicative of the level of activity in freshwater aquaculture development and research in the region compared with other regions. There are, for example, no institutions which have aquaculture as a primary programme and it is normally one component among many other programmes for food production and rural development.

However, the increasingly important contribution of aquaculture to food security is reflected in an expansion of training, research and extension activities at national level. One of the constraints to effective research at national level has been identified, by SIFR and CIFA amongst others, as the lack of access to relevant information.

In most of the countries, there is a continuing loss of institutional memory due to the fast turnover of responsible personnel and frequent administrative reorganizations coupled with the absence of a central repository for technical reports on aquatic farming systems at national or sub-regional level; documentation of past research programmes and development project activities becomes rapidly inaccessible to most researchers and developers; it has even been observed that it may physically disappear from the country after a few years only.

The differences between the individual libraries, even within countries, are substantial in terms of facilities, collections and access to information. However, some general comparisons can be made between libraries in the geographical sub-regions and between the francophone and anglophone countries. Most notably is the advantageous position of those libraries in Eastern and Southern Africa in terms of:

Despite the relative disadvantages of those libraries in Western and Sahelian francophone Africa related to the above, there are many important information and documentation activities undertaken by all libraries:

In general, one can conclude that the differences in the physical facilities and budgets of the libraries are enormous, but that the types and level of activity and information services have many features in common. It is also a common experience that the libraries, even the wealthier ones, rely more and more on access to external information sources and on the sharing of resources. Budgetary constraints and the increasing amount of information sources available at ever increasing cost, particularly in a subject area with the breadth of aquatic farming systems, make it impossible for libraries to acquire all of the relevant publications necessary to satisfy user demand.

In addition to the economic burden of access to international and commercially available information, the lack of access to the results and findings of research between the different sub-regions and between the anglophone and francophone African countries is a major obstacle to development. The barrier separating the francophone and anglophone sub-regions results not only from linguistic problems but also from the distribution pattern of information resources. The research and development results/problems in one sub-region are therefore mostly ignored in the other one and ignorance of information older than 20 years in the other language is practically total in the young generation of researchers and developers.

With regards to the disappearance of information from national libraries, a network of libraries could be effective in repatriating missing publications.

These constraints can be summarized as:


2.1 Objectives

The main objectives for an information network between institutions with programmes in aquatic farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa would be to support research and development activities by:

Organization at the regional level would provide a more cost effective means of collecting, managing and disseminating information. The network would also strengthen national capacities in access to information, promote regional cooperation and complement existing national and international information networks.

The immediate objectives of the African network would be:

The guiding principles for the operation of the network should include:

The immediate objectives of the project would be the establishment and initial operation of the network with the above-mentioned immediate objectives and guiding principles.

2.2 Outputs

The primary beneficiaries of the network would be the broad spectrum of users of the network libraries i.e. researchers, students and staff at the institutions; development agencies, including governmental and non-governmental; policy and planning officers; training and extension workers, the private sector and the international community via organizations such as ECA, UNDP, EU, ICLARM, FAO.

The network would aim to guide users to appropriate sources of information and provide targetted and timely services, responsive to user feedback.

Specific details of the outputs of the network will be agreed by the participants but some important information gaps have already been identified as well as material suitable for information exchange purposes.

The expected outputs of the network would be:

The expected project outputs would be:


3.1 Organization of the Information Network

The Aquatic Farming Systems Information Network for Africa (AFSINA) will initially be composed of libraries at:

� francophone, at Institut des Savanes (IDESSA), in Bouaké, Côte d'Ivoire;

� anglophone, at Bunda College of Agriculture, near Lilongwe, Malawi.

� in Côte d'Ivoire, at Centre de Recherches Océanologiques, Abidjan, which should host the future RECOSCIX Project for West Africa;

� in Mali, at Institut d'Economie Rurale, Bamako;

� for the Sahel, at Institut du Sahel, in Bamako, Mali;

� in Nigeria, at Ibadan University, Faculty of Agriculture/Forestry;

� in Kenya, at Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, Mombasa which hosts the RECOSCIX Project for Eastern coastal Africa and island states;

� in Zimbabwe, at Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management;

� for the SADC region, at ALCOM Programme, in Harare, Zimbabwe;

� in South Africa, at JLB Smith Institute of Ichthyology, Grahamstown, in close collaboration with Rhodes University.

Such an Information Network has the following characteristics:

The network should maintain links with the FAO HQ library. In the future, it should progressively expand within Africa as other libraries join. Links with information centres and networks from Asia, Europe and North America could also be envisaged.

3.2 Activities of the Project

3.2.1 First Phase: strengthening of existing resources (3 months)

3.2.2 Second Phase: Workshop for Network Members (3 months)

� to establish personal contacts between all members of the network;

� to present/dicuss existing national/regional activities;

� to agree on coverage and network objectives, functionality and outputs to be reflected in the Constitution of the Network Document;

� to consolidate a multidisciplinary Union Catalogue of relevant periodicals holding (current/non current) in the whole region, based on CDS/ISIS used by all libraries of the network, except in Nigeria, Zimbabwe and South Africa;

� to initiate production of a Directory of Information Resources on Aquatic Farming Systems in the region.

� Project Coordinator

� One professional librarian from each of the network centres (9)

� FAO Officer responsible for technical support at the workshop, with experience of micro CDS/ISIS, information networking and information resources/services to support research and rural development.

� FAO facilitator bilingual French/English, with good African experience of multi- disciplinary approach to research/development involving aquatic farming systems.

3.2.3 Third Phase: initial networking (9 months)

3.2.4 Fourth Phase: planning for the future and end of project (3 months)


4.1 Personnel

workshop and visit IDESSA 3 weeks; one visit to network in 1998 for 3 weeks; one visit at final meeting of project 1 week).

4.2 Contracts

4.3 Training

4.4 Equipment

4.4.1 IDESSA, Côte d'Ivoire

4.4.2 Institut d'Economie rurale, Mali

4.4.3 Department National Parks/Wildlife Management, Zimbabwe

4.4.4 Bunda College of Agriculture, Malawi

4.5 Supplies

4.6 General Operating Expenses

4.7 Direct Operating Expenses



The contributions of the Governments of Côte d'Ivoire and Malawi will consist of:

The other Governments of Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe will actively participate in the network (telecommunications, photocopies, mailing costs, staff), ensuring that the necessary operating expenses are available.


(in USD)

Countries: Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe

Project title: Establishment of the African Information Network for Aquatic Farming Systems

Project number:

1100 International consultant 11 200
1190 FAO Expert Services Advisory Technical Services 23 000
Sub-total for Personnel 34 200
3 000 Contracts 39 000
4 000 General Operating Expenses 25 000
5 000 Materials and Supplies 36 000
6 000 Equipment 30 000
7 000 Direct Operating Expenses to be determined
8 000 Training 58 000
Total = = = = =

Consultant Facilitator

Job Description

During each of the two project workshops, the facilitator will assist the Project Coordinator to bridge the linguistic and technical gaps existing between the participants:

Required Qualifications

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