Gender, biodiversity and local knowledge systems (LinKS) to strengthen agricultural and rural development (GCP/RAF/338/NOR)

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In recent years the notion of local knowledge has gained popularity. An important impetus for this has been problems and failures encountered in development endeavours in developing countries. Development agencies, theorists and academics have come to realise that development efforts that are based on conceptualisations, methods and values of the Euro-American World often fail to bring about appropriate and sustainable development in the communities which they target. In analysing these failures it has become obvious that local people’s needs, values, knowledge and capacities form an essential basis for effective development programmes. However, as a result of years of development interventions, steeped in a Modernisation approach, as well as a general process of globalisation, certain aspects of people’s local and traditional knowledge are disappearing. The current interest in local knowledge is thus motivated by an appreciation of its importance as well as its perceived loss. I believe that the workshop today, which focuses on local knowledge, gender and biodiversity, can be placed within this context. The aim of this paper is to help define the concept of local knowledge, to elaborate briefly on its role in development and to look at some methods and techniques, appropriate to access and record such local knowledge. Congruent with the interest of the workshop in gender, emphasis will be laid on methods which allow a gender analysis.



Gender, Biodiversity, Local knowledge, Rural development, Agriculture