Digital libraries for better access to information in the remote territories
It is well recognized that the ability to be in contact with sources of relevant information permits farm households and farmers’ organizations to manage and modify production and marketing systems in response to shifting demands. With access to quality information, rural communities and local organizations also improve their capacity to manage and maintain natural resources. This helps the territories to face the challenges posed by vulnerability and uncertainty.
Currently, farm households and rural communities in the territories of Central America and Caribbean region make farm and natural resource management decisions under extreme risk and uncertainty. It is evident that In these regions the current performance of the local knowledge systems are unable to fully meet the new demands of the society, which require a more diverse, complex and holistic agenda.
Although we are in the information age, information is not always where and when we need it especially in the remote territories of developing countries. It remains a challenge to innovate simple delivery mechanisms so that the local organizations and the farm household in remote territories can have easy access to information from multiple sources on critical themes that concern them.
To meet this challenge, Humidtropics embarked on the journey of building and distributing digital libraries on critical themes identified by the partner organizations in Nicanorte action site. The digital libraries were built by local consultants who searched for gray and published literature related to the themes generated in Mesoamérica over last ten years (2005-2014). They analyzed and selected relevant documents and organized them by years, themes and sources. The digital libraries held a collection of 300-500 documents including books, manuals, guides, technical reports, popular journal pieces, and scientific articles. Care was exercised to only include publicly available documents with no restrictions on sharing.
During 2014, four digital libraries were built and distributed in Nicanorte action site of Humidtropics on the themes of Sustainable coffee production, Sustainable livestock production, Nicaraguan Public Policies and Rural Women. Although limited number of copies of the digital libraries were made available to the key members of key partner organizations, they made sure that the digital libraries finally ended up in the computers of most of the members of the 50 local organizations integrated into three learning alliances located in northern Nicaragua.
In 2015, more digital libraries will be built and work sessions will be held with the members of the territorial alliances to improve their skill to use of the digital libraries for integrating and mobilizing new knowledge in a collective manner. It is expected that in the near future, the newly integrated knowledge generated by the alliance members will foster more effective analysis and debates this will help local actors to take better decisions to face the challenges posed by climatic change, volatile markets and globalization.
Humidtropics works alongside farm families in tropical Africa, Asia, and the Americas to improve the income and well being of rural populations through the sustainable intensification of agricultural systems, preserving the land for future generations. In Central America and the Caribbean, Humidtropics brings together the efforts of local institutions to promote exchanges and boost networks of collaboration in remote territories.
Falguni Guharay, Scientist, R4DPlatforms, Humidtropics and PIM, CIAT, Managua, Nicaragua
Shadi Azedagan, Communication officer, Humidtropics, CIAT, Managua, Nicaragua