Criteria for assessing IK
When assessing each type of IKpractice, technology,
organizational structure, human resource, etc.consider the following
- Efficacy: Does it work? Is it effective? Under
- Cost-effectivenees: Is it cost-effective? Affordable to poor
- Availability: Are its "ingredients", available in this
location? In sufficient amounts? Decreasing?
- Understandability: Is it easy to understand? Easy to handle?
- Cultural appropriateness: Is it culturally appropriate? Will
it be accepted? (These two questions apply only when IK from one location is
introduced to another location, ethnic group or caste.)
- Effect on different groups in communities: How will it affect
the different user- and non-user groups in the village? (Who would be burdened?
Who would benefit?)
- Environmental soundness: How does it affect the environment?
- Constraints: What are potential constraints to its use or
application? Can they be overcome?
These criteria resemble those applied to western knowledge. Due
to its special nature, however, the measurement standards for IK might have to
be distinct from those applied to western knowledge.
Special characteristics of IK
IK is holistic (ace Characteristics of local systems).
Indigenous systems are often complex, their various components
interrelated. This makes it difficult to measure their efficacy or economic
return accurately. To overcome this, western science has tended to pick only
bits and pieces of local systems for comparison with their western counterparts.
For example, yields of local crops were compared to those of improved western
varieties. The fact that the local crops were well adapted to specific
intercropping arrangements was often ignored despite the fact that total
economic return from some intercropped fields is higher than that from improved
Western science has been slow to develop methods to assess
complex systems. Father than measuring the yields of single crops, we need
methods which can measure economic returns of intercropped fields over extended
periods. To assess the productivity of particular livestock species, we need
methods which take into account inputs coat of feed, medicines and labor.
Up to now, analyses have focused on outputsmilk production and meat
productionand neglected the benefits of local breeds which thrive on
The value of some IK cannot be expressed in monetary terms.
Some practices fetch low economic returns but perform valuable
social functions. Other practices which seem less effective than outside
technologies might preserve the environmenta benefit that is difficult to
express in economic terms. In other words, assessment of
IK must recognize
the context in which it was developed and in which it is applied.
Adapting measurement standards to accommodate the special nature
of IK is not enough. We must also identify the criteria and standards by, which
local people themselves judge IK. This can be difficult.
We can, however, find out:
- What people value most in a specific IK
they chose it
- What they See as its strengths and weaknesses
- What they
think would happen if the IK were not available
- Who would be most affected
if the IK were not available
- What features people look for when they teat a
technology, and 50 on.
In other words, we attempt to learn the people's view of IK.
Methods described in this manual can be adapted to this purpose.
Only if we combine both insiders' end outriders' assessment,
will we be able to identify and better understand the value and usefulness of
Compiled by Evelyn