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close this bookRecording and Using Indigenous Knowledge: A Manual (IIRR, 1996, 211 p.)
close this folderPart 1 Indigenous knowledge and development
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentHow the manual was compiled
View the documentHow to use the manual
View the documentWhat is indigenous knowledge?
View the documentWho knows what?
View the documentCharacteristics of local systems
View the documentWhy is indigenous knowledge useful?
View the documentHelping communities conserve their IK
View the documentUsing indigenous knowledge in development
View the documentRecording IK in communities
View the documentIntellectual property rights


Compiled by Evelyn Mathias


Rural people have an intimate knowledge of many aspects of their surroundings and their daily lives. Over centuries, people have learned how to grow food and to survive in a sometimes difficult environment. They know what varieties of crops to plant, when to sow and weed, which plants are poisonous and which can be used for medicine, how to cure diseases and how to maintain their environment in a state of equilibrium.

This "indigenous knowledge," or IK for short, covers a wide range of subjects:

- agriculture
- livestock
- rearing
- food preparation
- education
- institutional
- management
- natural resource management
- health care, and many other topics.

IK is a valuable resource for development. Under certain circumstances it can be equal to or even be superior to the know-how introduced by outsiders. Development efforts should therefore consider IK and use it to best advantage. Although more and more development professionals have come to realize the potential of IK, it remains a neglected resource. A key reason for this is the lack of guidelines for recording and applying IK. Without such guidelines, there is a danger that IK will become just another empty buzzword of the sort that litters the history of development efforts.

This manual aims to overcome this constraint. It provides government and non-government rural development workers with the information and tools they need to integrate IK into their development work. The design of the manual allows for easy copying and use of the materials in training. We hope that this manual will facilitate the use and conservation of indigenous knowledge for the benefit of people and their communities.

Part 1 of the manual is an overview of IK-related issues.

Part 2 is a description of more than 30 methods for recording and assessing IK.

Part 3 discusses issues and methods for assessing the usefulness of
IK in development.

In Part 4, 11 mini-case studies illustrate how projects can build on IK.

Part 5 contains more than 20 question guides that outline content areas to be considered when recording IK.

Part 6 lists some further resources that you can draw on when exploring the use of IK.

How the manual was compiled

The international Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) is a nongovernment development organization with a tradition of starting with "what the people know" and building on "what the people have." This manual draws on the varied experience of IIRR staff, representing decades of participatory development field work. The bulk of the manual is the result of a participatory workshop, an especially fast and efficient technique, pioneered by IIRR, to produce information materials.

Preparations for the workshop started in June 1994, coordinated by IlRR's Regional Program for the Promotion of Indigenous Knowledge in Asia (Reppika). IIRR staff and several non-llRR specialists suggested topics and names of likely resource people. This produced a list of some 80 topics, which were assigned to specific resource people.

The two-day workshop was held in December 1994 and involved about 25 IIRR staff members. The group finalized the list of topics, adding some and dropping or combining others. They then formed small groups and prepared their assigned papers according to guidelines that had been circulated previously. The participants were assisted by a team of editors, desktop publishing specialists and artists. Resource material, listed in the reference section of this manual, was made available. In the afternoon of each day, outputs from the previous morning were presented, critiqued and improved by the entire gathering. In this way, some 45 papers were compiled and 10 were presented.

After the workshop, Reppika and the editors integrated the suggested changes in the papers and helped other staff members prepare papers on the remaining topics. Since the latter papers were not available in time to benefit from peer review during the workshop, they were circulated to selected staff members for comments. The same was done with papers submitted by outsiders.

As a result of this process, the manual draws on:

- Literature on participatory methods (e.g., participatory rural appraisal, rapid rural appraisal, participatory action research). All references listed in topic References.

- Publications on anthropological field methods.

- Field experience of IIRR staff members.

- Contributions from members of the Global IK Network (for more information on this network, See the section titled Ad dresses).

How to use the manual

There is no single approach to recording IK. This manual does not propose a new methodology for recording IK, nor do the authors claim to have invented the methods described. Rather, the manual attempts to describe how existing methods can be used to record IK.

The manual is heavily biased towards participatory methods (such as those used in participatory rural appraisal) because these are useful for capturing information on indigenous knowledge. However, it also recognizes the limitations of participatory approaches and the value of other methods such as sample surveys and in-depth interviews.

The manual does not provide ready-to-use approaches, but offers building blocks which users can put together to meet their specific objectives when recording IK. The examples at the end of the question guides in Part 5 are suggestions rather than prescriptions. Methods must be chosen, combined and modified to suit each field study. Creativity and flexibility are crucial for successful recording and application of IK.

The attitude and behavior of the rural development practitioner, or the "outsider," are also important. Professionals must face the challenge of "un-learning" assumptions which imply that "modern" must replace "traditional." Outsiders must be open, willing to learn from the people.

At the same time, local people. or the "insiders," must come to appreciate and value their indigenous knowledge. When people disregard their own knowledge, traditional wisdom and practices are slowly lost. To make IK work, all involved must recognize its usefulness and potential.

But even then, IK is definitely not a solution for every problem. Its contribution to development will also depend on the quality and approach of the projects in which it is used. If a project starts without insiders and outsiders jointly diagnosing the situation, it is likely that prescribed technologies and practices will not address what local people perceive as their main problems. Solutions will be rejected whether they are based on indigenous or western technologies, and the project may well fail.

Understanding IK is fundamental to participatory development approaches. However, we need to go one step beyond understanding IK. We must actively apply useful IK in the planning, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of projects. This means employing local healers, using traditional education methods, multiplying indigenous tree species, working with local organizations, spreading messages through indigenous communication channels—to give only a few ideas how projects can use IK.

At the same we must recognize that actively promoting selected IK technologies and practices does not necessarily make development participatory. For example, a project can introduce indigenous herbal medicines in a village without first consulting with the local people. Villagere might, or might not, decide to use the herbal drugs, depending on how the project as a whole is presented, whether it is culturally appropriate, and so on. Only if the active application of IK is part of a people-centered, truly participatory development effort, will we be able to realize the potential of IK in development.

IK in peopIe-centered participatory development

The table below shows stages in the project cycle and how IK might be involved in each stage.

Project cycle

Involvement of IK

Where discussed in this manual

Problem identitication

Understanding of IK is an integral part of truly participatory projects

Not discussed. Consult literature on RRA, PRA and other participatory approaches (e.g., Pretty et al. 1995)

Project design

Understanding of IK and its active application in projects

Part 1: Indigenous knowledge and development


Step 1: Discovering if relevant IK exists

Part 2: Recording and assessment methodologies

Step 2: Evaluating the effectiveness and sustainability of IK (Use directly if performance is obvious or proven.)

Part 5: Question guides

Step 3: Testing whether IK can be improved

Part 3: Assessment of indigenous knowledge

Step 4: Applying and promoting IK

Part 5: Question guides

For examples, see Part 4: Mini-case studies

For examples, see Part 4

Monitoring and evaluation

Monitoring and evaluating the of IK Using IK to monitor and evaluate the performance of projects

Part 3: Assessment of indigenous knowledge

Part 2: Recording and assessment methodologies

Part 3: Assessment of indigenous knowledge

What is indigenous knowledge?

Indigenous knowledge is the knowledge that people in a given community have developed over time, and continue to develop. It is

- Based on experience.
- Often tested over centuries of use.
- Adapted to local culture and environment.
- Dynamic and changing.

Indigenous knowledge is not confined to tribal groups or the original inhabitants; of an area (called indigenas in Latin America). It is not even confined to rural people. Rather, any community possesses indigenous knowledge —rural and urban, settled and nomadic, original inhabitants and migrants. Other names for indigenous knowledge (or closely related concepts) are "local knowledge," "indigenous technical knowledge" and "traditional knowledge."

Indigenous vs western knowledge

Indigenous knowledge is often contrasted with "scientific," "western," "international," or "modern" knowledge—the knowledge developed by universities, research institutions and private firms using a formal scientific approach. This manual refers to this as "western knowledge" (despite the limitations of this term). See the section on Abbreviations and Definitions for a discussion on this.

In reality, there is a lot of overlap between indigenous and western knowledge, and it can be very difficult to distinguish between them. Agrawal (1995) has a critical discussion of this issue.

Because indigenous knowledge changes over time, it is sometimes difficult to decide whether a technology or practice indeed is indigenous, or adopted from outside, or a blend of local and introduced components. For a development project, however, it does not matter whether a practice is really indigenous or already mixed up with introduced knowledge. What is important is that instead of looking only for technologies and solutions from outside the community, we first look at what is in the community. We then use whichever knowledge is found to be effective. Or we combine the beat of both.

Types of indigenous knowledge
IK is more than just technologies and Practices. It includes:


- Trees and plants that grow well together.

- Indicator plants (plants that show the soil salinity or that are known to flower at the beginning of the rains).


Practices and technologies

- Seed treatment and storage methods.
- Bone-setting methods.
- Disease treatments.

Practices and technologies


Beliefs can play a fundamental role in a people's livelihood and in maintaining their health and the environment.

- Holy forests are protected for religious reasons. They also may maintain a vital watershed.

- Religious festivals can be an important source of food for people who otherwise have little to eat.



- Equipment for planting and harvesting.
- Cooking pots and implements.



- Housing construction materials.
- Materials for basketry and other craft industries.



- Farmers' integration of new tree species into existing farming systems.
- Healers' tests of new plant medicines.


Biological resources

- Animal breeds.
- Local crop and tree species.

Biological resources

Human resources

- Specialists such as healers and blacksmiths.

- Local organizations such as kinship groups councils of elders, or groups that share and exchange labor.

Human resources


- Traditional instruction methods.
- Apprenticeships.
- Learning through observation.



- Stories and messages; carved on lontar palm leaves
- Folk media.
- Traditional information exchange mechanisms.


Who knows what?

Types of knowledge...

Older people have different types of knowledge than the young. Women and men, farmers and merchants, educated and uneducated people all have different types of knowledge.

- Common knowledge is held by most people in a community; e.g., almost everyone knows how to cook rice (or the local staple food).

- Shared knowledge is held by many but not all community members; e.g., villagers who raise livestock will know basic animal husbandry.

- Specialized knowledge is held by a few people who might have had special training or an apprenticeship; e.g., only a few villagers will become healers, midwives, or blacksmiths.

... and types of People

The type of knowledge people have is related to:

- Age
- Sex (see question guide Gender and indigenous knowledge)
- Education
- Labor division within the family, enterprise or community
- Occupation
- Environment
- Socio-economic status
- Experience
- History, etc

This has important implications for development work. To find out what people know we must identify the right people to ask. For example, if boys do the herding, they might know better than their fathers where the beet grazing sites are. If we ask the fathers to show us good pastures, we might get only partial information. Development professionals sometimes think that villagers know very little, when in fact the wrong people have been interviewed.

Characteristics of local systems

The following characteristics of local systems can influence the outcome of development projects:

- Most local people arc generalists

They tend to know a little about many things. This contrasts with academia, where people tend to be specialists, knowing a great deal about a few things. That said, some local people are specialists (see Who knows what? on previous page).

- IK systems are holistic

Local people face a set of interrelated problems and they often attempt to solve them by applying their knowledge in a holistic way. For instance, a farmer might view her farm as a whole rather than as a set of relatively separate enterprises. Her decisions about one enterprise might be affected by her knowledge and perceptions of other parts of the farm or environment. The relationships between the parts and the reasoning behind decisions might not be easily discernible to an outsider.

- IK systems integrate culture and religion

Religion is an integral part of IK and cannot necessarily be-separated from technical knowledge. Religious beliefs and superstitions might be an important influence on what people do and how ready they are to accept new practices. Trying to change an undesirable practice might be difficult because it is rooted in deeply held beliefs that underlay many other aspects of the culture.

- IK systems minimize risk rather than maximize profit

Avoiding risk is important for local people. For instance, a farmer might keep a few goats as a form of savings, a source of ready cash in case a child falls ill Since the goats are not a source of regular income, the farmer will try to keep feed costs and labor low, rather than try to optimize meat and milk production. Another farmer might have several small fields in different locations as a hedge against pest damage. This rules out higher yields from mechanization, but pests are less likely to wipe out the entire crop.

Why is indigenous knowledge useful?

- IK is the basis for self-sufficiency and self-determination for at east two reasons:

1 People are familiar with indigenous practices and technologies. They can understand, handle, and maintain them better than introduced western practices and technologies.

2 IK draws on local resources. People are less dependent on outside supplies, which can be costly, scarce and available only irregularly.

- IK provides effective alternatives to western know-how. It gives local people and development workers extra options when designing projects. Instead of searching only among western technologies for feasible solutions, they can choose from indigenous knowledge or combine indigenous and western technology.

- Indigenous technologies and practices are often cheaper than western once. They rely on locally available skills and materials and often require little on no cash outlay.

IK is easily overlooked

Be careful: indigenous practices are sometimes not very spectacular. Despite their effectiveness, they can easily be overlooked.

For example, a traditional irrigation system consisting of mud canals and bamboo pipes looks leas impressive than an introduced system of neat, straight, and cemented canals. Nevertheless the local system can effectively distribute water to the fields. In the long run, it might even conserve water better than the cement canals. Research in Nepal has shown that farmer-managed irrigation systems based on indigenous knowledge resulted in higher agricultural productivity than systems built and managed by government agencies (DFM 1993).

IK is often overlooked because it seems "messy" and 50 is not obvious to outsiders. For example, people in some places do not weed their plots in order to reduce soil erosion. An outsider might get the wrong idea and assume nobody is tending the fields.

IK is an endangered species

IK is often transmitted by word of mouth rather than in written form. This makes it vulnerable to rapid change—especially when people are displaced or killed in famine or war, or when younger generations acquire values and lifestyles different from their ancestors.

Some IK is lost naturally as techniques and tools are modified or fall out of use. During the last decades, however, development processes and population changes have accelerated this 1055, endangering the survival of IK.
What can we do to preserve this endangered species? Here are some ideas:

- Raise awareness about the value of IK for development.

- Help communities conserve their IK (see Helping communities conserve their IK).

- Record and use IK in applied development projects (see Using indigenous knowledge in development).

- Document IK and make the information available to people working in development.

- Make IK available to the communities from which it was obtained.

- Observe intellectual properly rights when recording IK (see Intellectual property rights).

Helping communities conserve their IK

Despite limited documentation, people have managed to transmit knowledge efficiently from generation to generation, conserving wisdom for centuries. Social and technical skills arc shared and used throughout communities, and in the process, passed to children. There is no patent recipe for conserving IK, but education, communication, and application can help.

Here are a few suggestions on how you can help communities preserve their IK.

Raise awareness in me community about the value of their IK

Record and share IK success stories in songs, drawings, puppet plays, story telling, dramas, videos, and other traditional or modern means of communication.

Demonstrate me usefulness of IK

Establish model farms, agricultural demonstration plots, handicraft enterprises, herbal gardens, and other indigenous technologies that can show people the value of their IK.

Help community members record and document their local practices

Circulate the results of IK recording efforts in a newsletter, book, video, and other traditional or modern means of communication. Encourage indigenous forms of record keeping (see Sources and documentation of IK in Part 2).

Make IK available

Involve local people in preserving their IK For instance, help set up a farmer-managed local germplasm bank.

Promote revival of traditions and selected local practices

Encourage the reintroduction of indigenous education. Encourage establishment or strengthening of indigenous organizations. This will encourage community members to place a higher value on local culture and practices.

Using indigenous knowledge in development

Usually development projects start with the identification of problems and with discussions on how these problems might be solved. For example, if soil erosion is a problem, conservation measures will be needed. if farmers need money for farm inputs, a credit program might be the answer.

How can such projects and others use IK? The flowchart below summarizes the decisions that must be made. We can identify four basic steps (these steps are the same as in the table in the section How to use the manual):

Decisions when using IK in projects

1 Determine whether relevant IK exists

Working together, community members and development workers record and briefly document all IK available in the community relating to the identified problem—what has been done in the past and what is presently done to solve the problem. For guidance on how to record IK, see Why is indigenous knowledge useful and Recording IK in communities. and the descriptions of individual recording methods in Part 2.

If time and financial constraints prevent a thorough recording and documentation, think of methods that allow for a quick assessment of at lea et some IK-such a as bra in storming sesions with key informants (see Brainstorming in Part 2).

If no relevant local IK exists, it might be necessary to test, adapt, and promote appropriate knowledge from outside. This outside knowledge can be western knowledge, IK from other places, or a blend of both.

2 Evaluate me effectiveness and sustainability of IK

If relevant IK does exist, local people and development workers can together discuss and screen their findings, looking for IK useful to the project.

Remember that from a development point of view, not all IK is equally useful. Some might be ineffective, and some might even be harmful. De selective (Part 3 gives some criteria for validating IK).

When evaluating the effectiveness of IK, understand the reasons behind a particular practice or belief. For example, we may ask:

Why does farmer X build a stone wall in this particular place and not further down the slope like we teach at the university?

We might find that if the wall were built in a different place, it might be washed away by heavy rains. Thus IK can make sense even if it contradicts the teachings of outside specialists.

If the IK is indeed effective and sustainable, it can be promoted without further modification. For example:

- Make effective cooking devices more widely known.
- Promote local remedies that work.
- Employ local healers.

3 Test whether IK can be improved

Often, IK is effective but can be improved. For instance, a traditional cropping system might be made more productive by incorporating a new grass species or an improved crop variety. Alight modifications to a traditional stove design might make it more fuel-efficient yet retain other desirable features.

These improvements can be made in various ways

- Through formal research in laboratories and experimental farms.

- By on-farm research managed by scientists (as is common in farming systems research).

- Through farmer-managed, participatory technology development (Veldhuizen and Zeeuw [1992] give guidance on this).

The outside knowledge can be both western knowledge and IK from other places. The table below, and Part 4 give some examples of blending indigenous and outside technologies.

In some cases, IK cannot be improved or adapted satisfactorily. Adaptations of a local cropping system, for instance, might prove consistently inferior in all respects to an introduced pattern. In such instances, it might be best to adapt and promote the introduced pattern.

Blending local and introduced knowledge

Farmers in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia have several practices to improve soil fertility and prevent erosion. The table below shows how indigenous knowledge can be blended with-and improved through western knowledge.

Indigenous Practice

Western knowledge

Indigenous Practice blended with western knowledge

Carry dry biomass from the forest (e.g., from Albizia sinensis trees) and burn it on fields.

Green manuring using Desmodium, Gliricidia, and Flamengia.

Promote growing of indigenous tree species on farm for biomas production.

Slash and burn cultivation on rotation basis.

Use of leguminous tree species.

Use of leguminous hedgerows to maintain soil fertility on slash and burn fields to turn them into continuously cultivated fields.

Build contour barriers from dry branches, shrubs, and bamboo.

Contour canals and hedgerows to reduce erosion.

Strengthen barrier with live hedgerows and combine them with a contour ditch uphill from the barrier.

Integrate trees into fields in irregular pattern.

Regular planting distances among trees; trees not planted in fields.

Improve planting patterns of existing practices in fields.

Build terraces from rocks.

Live hedgerows.

Strenghten terraces with live hedgerows.

Source: Nelson Sinaga Yayasan Tananua, Nunsa Tenggara, Indonesia.

4 Apply and Promote improved IK

The improved IK can be promoted and applied through the extension service, farmer-centered extension, and other communication and education approaches. Participatory approaches to technology development have the advantage that local people have been involved in the development and tedting of the improved IK. They are therefore more likely to use and promote it successfully than If top-down approaches are used.

Note Using IK in projects: An example of soil erosion

A village's harvests are low. Farmers and development workers identify heavy soil erosion as one of the causes How can they design measures that build on IK?

First, local people and development workers discuss what has been done by the community in the past to solve this problem. Together they determine what resources are available in the village.

They record and document all IK relating to land management. They walk together around the fields and assess the situation. Out in the fields they become aware of facts and practices that a discussion in a room might not have brought out. They document everything stone walls, terraces, bush species planted on hill slopes planting practices, etc.

The team (insiders and outsiders) then decides whether any of the existing IK (information, practices, technologies, species, etc.) might be useful to the project. They discus how the IK could be used— whether pure, modified, or blended with outside technological.

Finally, the project applies the selected practices, using some directly and setting up experiments to test and improve others.

Note Using IK in Projects: An example of credit

Farmers have asked a church group to lend them money to buy farm inputs. The church group agress to make available a small amount of money to be distributed through a credit program is there any IK in the community that the credit program could use?

First, farmers and representatives of the church group sit together to discuss and record any forms of saving and credit practiced in the community. Indigenous forms do not necessarily involve cash.

Although many societies indeed have some arrangements for money lending, they can also involve valuable goods that are sold or exchanged when cash is needed. (For example, people often keep sheep and goats an forms of savings.)

The church group also talks with indigenous money lenders.

Then farmers and representatives of the church group screen their findings to determine whether some of the recorded IK could be useful for the credit program. For example, the project could consider employing indigenous money lenders. These money lenders are often very successful. They might, however, employ practices that the project might feel uncomfortable imitating, such as asking very high interest rates But, the money lenders' success could also be due to the respect they enjoy in their community.
In this case, they might be a valuable asset to the credit program.

Recording IK in communities

You should follow certain rules and procedures when collecting, recording, and documenting IK. Whether the IK is part of an applied development project for storage in a database, the same standards apply. The following is a general outline of activities, rules, and procedures to be followed when collecting, recording, and documenting IK, Part 2 contains detailed information on some 30 methods useful for recording IK,


- Define your study objectives.

- Determine content and extent of the study: What do you need to know? How much do you need to know? Do not attempt to collect more data than necessary

- Select methods for recording and documentation. Methods should:

Yield the required information.
Be low-cost.
De easily understood by community members.
Be fun.
Place importance on local people rather than the researcher and other outsiders.

- Prepare for each method thoroughly before going to the community. If several people are involved, divide the work and agree on who will do what.

- Collect as much relevant information as you can about the community and related topics before you enter the community.

- Obtain permission from the community before you start the study or project.

Entering the community

- Introduce yourself and other outsiders to all community members involved.

- Explain to the community, in detail, the study or project objectives, Do not raise false expectations.

- Let people know that you have come to learn from them.

- Discuss with the community the possible benefits of the study.

- Inform community members of how much of their time the study take.

- Learn the meaning of local terms (see Matching terms and concepts below).

- If possible, learn to speak the local language. This makes field work much easier and is usually highly appreciated.


Matching terms and concepts

Many misunderetandings and mistakes occur because outsiders and local people do not understand what each other mean when they use particular words. Your Definitions and the way you classify things such as soils and diseases arc not-necessarily the same as those of community members. You may need to work together with local people to translate and match your terms and concepts.

In some cases local Definitions arc broader than their western equivalent. For example, Fulani pastoralists in Africa regard several important livestock diseases as Just one disease because they have similar symptoms.

In other instances, local descriptions arc more detailed. For example, the Inuit of the Arctic have many words for snow; farmers in Central America have different names for corn depending upon its stage of growth or its intended use; and pastoralists in northern Africa have an extensive vocabulary describing parts of a camel's body, reflecting how important the camel is to these people.

Some abstract concepts, such as beliefs about what causes disease, have no western equivalent. it can be difficult to match indigenous terms and taxonomist with their corresponding western ones. Methods such as interviews, sorting, ranking, building taxonomist, and observation can help match indigenous and western terms.

Learning about IK

- Ask neutral questions. Do not ask leading questions.


Yes: "What do you use this for?"
No: "Do you use this for cooking"

- Use these words and phrases often: What? How? Why? Who? When? Where? How often? Where did you learn this?

- Listen. Observe.

- Be open. Try to achieve an insider's perspective.

- Keep alive the interest of local participants—know when to Stop.

- Follow the dos and don'ts of community work in the box below.


Dos and don'ts of community work
Don't force people to participate in the process.
Don't be impatient.
Don't ask a lot of questions all at once.
Let people finish what they have to say and then ask your questions.
Listen attentively and learn.
Don't disturb ongoing discussions.
When people are discussing one subject, don't introduce another.
Include fence sitters (those who watch but do not actively participate).
Be wary of people who dominate discussions. Deal with them diplomatically.
When people discuss among themselves, do not try to influence them.
Don't show approval or disapproval.
Don't exchange signs between team members during discussions.
Learn and use the local language.

Source: Shogorip 1992

- Recording IK Record all information, even if it does not make sense from an outider's point of view.

- Record as neutrally and value-free as possible.


Yes: "Farmers use local breeds."
No: "Farmers still use local breeds."
No: "The village appears less developed because farmers use only local breeds."
Yes: "Farmers use two or three types of medicine."
No: "Farmers know only two or three types of medicine."

When the study is finished

- Validate the output with the community.
- Provide the community with a copy of the output.
- Discuss how results will be used and how they can benefit the community.


"Extractive research" is designed to provide information to outriders.
'Enriching research enables local communities. (Waters-Bayer 1994).

Intellectual property rights

Recording IK presents a dilemma. Consider traditional medicines: If we don't record IK, it is lost forever. If we do record IK, the results can be used to the disadvantage of local people—for instance, if the drugs are patented and marketed by outside firms, without any payment or benefit to the community as the inventor or source of the information.

How can we help prevent our work on IK from being abused? Here are some guidelines:

- Include local people as authors or credit them when recording their practices. Always include names, dates, and places in your records and in any document describing IK of a specific person or community.

- Help local people document their information, to become authors themselves.

- Record and use IK in the context of applied development projects.

- Leave copies of the outputs of fieldwork (e.g., maps, seasonal calendars) with the community.

- Make the outcome of your study available to the community (e.g., translate reports, make copies of videos, establish village-based databases, etc.).

- Help community members (or communities) copyright documents and patent technologies which are unique and promising.

- Help communities organize to determine for themselves how they wish to respond to inquiries from researchers and commercial companies. They might be able to bargain with such outsiders to ensure that they receive some benefits from sharing their knowledge.

- Know and comply with the local laws on export of artifacts and germplasm.