EMPOWERING COMMUNITIES TO TAKE THE LEAD IN PROMOTING AND SAFEGUARDING TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE

To continue our discussion on the draft Traditional Knowledge National Action Plan (TKNAP), we will now shift our focus to activities within Indigenous communities. Clearly, it is in the best interest of each Indigenous community in Guyana to take a lead in tackling the issues related to promoting the continued use and safeguarding of their traditional knowledge and practices. Communities, though, may need support from external parties for capacity building and access to funds that would support such community actions.
The actions under a third objective of the TKNAP would address such matters. How so?
The Darwin Initiative, “Integrating traditional knowledge into national policy and practices” project has been training community members in participatory video. Some of the participants then served as community researchers, supporting project activities in their community.
Participatory video is a methodology that promotes the involvement of community members in creating short videos that are focused on topics of importance to them. It encourages conversations and dialogue during the process of making the video, while interviewing community members, and when the final video is shown for all to see. This methodology leads to what the project has been promoting as ‘community owned solutions’ – an approach which positions local people as being the best-placed to come up with solutions to matters related to their development and conservation challenges. It builds confidence and pride, and helps to strengthen community-based action.
In efforts to promote the use of participatory video and community-owned solutions, it was been recommended that more training opportunities be made available to Indigenous community members, particularly youths. A training manual and accompanying tutorial videos have been developed through this project, and they can be used to promote and facilitate this purpose. As more persons are trained, it would be good to establish a network of youth participatory researchers who can support their community and each other.
Sharing experiences and best practices between communities is another way of supporting villages that are looking for examples of ways to address their challenges, or ways to improve development and conservation. Referred to as “peer to peer knowledge exchange”, this sharing between communities involves community researchers taking the lead in arranging to visit other communities to share their knowledge, skills and experiences. The participatory videos and community-owned solutions are the focus of these exchanges; they are used to learn from each other, and inspire people to come up with their own ideas to tackle an issue.
Videos are an excellent way for communities to document different aspects of their traditional knowledge. Interviewing people in the community, particularly elders, to document livelihood practices, stories/folklore, songs, practices related to food preparation, craft-making and much more can be safely stored within the communities, and be made available to future generations that are helping to safeguard traditional culture and practices.
As Sydney Allicock once said, “Having these documented from our communities and shared amongst ourselves serves as a reminder of the knowledge that we have, and could lose with the changing times. It also reminds us that we may have the answer or answers to some of the questions being asked”.
In next week’s article, we will continue to share with you information based on a drafted Traditional Knowledge Action Plan (TKNAP) for Guyana. If you would like to learn more about some of the work that has been done by the project in communities, please visit the following website: https://cobracollective.org/tag/darwin/.
Also, how do you feel about traditional knowledge and the role it plays in conservation? What do you think about a Traditional Knowledge National Action Plan for Guyana? Please share your thoughts via 592 650 6632 (WhatsApp or SMS only).

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