Cover Image
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
close this folderPart 2 Recording and assessment methodologies
close this folderRecording methods
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentSources and documentation of IK
close this folderSample selection
View the documentHow to draw a sample
View the documentIdentifying indigenous specialists
close this folderObservation and interviewing
View the documentCase studies
View the documentField observation
View the documentIn-depth interviews
View the documentInterviewing
View the documentParticipant observation
View the documentParticipative technology analysis
View the documentSurveys
close this folderWorking with groups
View the documentBrainstorming
View the documentFive questions
View the documentGames
View the documentGroup discussions
View the documentRole play
View the documentStrengths and weaknesses
View the documentSWOT analysis
View the documentVillage reflections
View the documentVillage workshop
close this folderUsing diagram
View the documentFlow chart
View the documentHistorical comparison
View the documentIllustrations and diagrams
View the documentMapping
View the documentMatrix
View the documentModeling bioresource flows
View the documentSeasonal Pattern chart
View the documentSorting and ranking
View the documentTaxonomies
View the documentTransect
View the documentVenn (or chapti) diagramming
View the documentWebbing
close this folderAudio-visual media
View the documentCassette documentation
View the documentParticipatory video
View the documentPhoto/slide documentation
close this folderPart 3 Assessment of indigenous knowledge
View the documentAssessing IK
View the documentCriteria for assessing IK
View the documentTapping assessment
View the documentUsing western science methods to assess IK
View the documentMonitoring and evaluation
close this folderPart 4 Mini-case studies - How development can build on IK
View the documentMini-case studies
View the documentProblem identification and prioritization in Kiko Rosa, Philippines
View the documentCommunity manged health in Pinagsanjaan, Philippines
View the documentIncorporation of local free species in an agroforestry project in Layong Mabilog Philippines
View the documentLocal vegetable varieties for home gardening programs
View the documentTraditional animal dispersal schemes in Cavite, Philippines
View the documentIncreasing food Production in Negros, Philippines
View the documentOvercoming labor shortages through indigenous mutual-help groups
View the documentPromoting the use of IK in Venezuela
View the documentFarmers' experiments in teak germination in Sri Lanka
View the documentPromoting an indigenous savings scheme in Ethiopia
close this folderPart 5 - Question guides
View the documentQuestion guides
View the documentGender and indigenous knowledge
View the documentFarmer-to-farmer extension and farmer experimentation
View the documentSoil fertility
View the documentCropping systems
View the documentGardening
View the documentAgroforestry
View the documentWatershed management
View the documentEnvironment, natural resources. and biodiversity
View the documentCoastal resource s management
View the documentAquaculture
View the documentAnimal husbandry and healthcare
View the documentFood and nutrition
View the documentReproductive health and family planning
View the documentWater and sanitation
View the documentHealth financing schemes
View the documentHealthcare systems
View the documentOccupational health
View the documentOrganizations and leadership
View the documentCredit and savings
View the documentEnterprise development
View the documentCommunication
close this folderPart 6 - Resources
View the documentAbbreviations and definitions
View the documentReferences
View the documentAddresses
View the documentProject staff and contributors

Criteria for assessing IK

When assessing each type of IK—practice, technology, organizational structure, human resource, etc.—consider the following criteria:


- Efficacy: Does it work? Is it effective? Under what conditions?

- Cost-effectivenees: Is it cost-effective? Affordable to poor people?

- 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 monocrops.

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 outputs—milk production and meat production—and neglected the benefits of local breeds which thrive on minimal inputs.

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 environment—a 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
- Why 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 IK.

Compiled by Evelyn Mathias