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Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology Study on ...

Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology Study on Indigenous Knowledge Progressing Well….

The Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology’s sponsored study on Indigenous knowledge System is progressing well. The Ministry has contracted the University of Botswana based Center for Scientific Research, Indigenous Knowledge and Innovation (CesrIKi) to help in the formulation of the Botswana Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) Policy.IKS constitutes the knowledge that people in a given community have developed over time, and continue to develop. It is the basis for agriculture, food preparation, healthcare, education and training, environmental conservation, etc.It is embedded in community practices, institutions, relationships and rituals. Herbal medicine is a good example of indigenous knowledge, which has affected the lives of people worldwide. The aim of this study is to create an inventory of all the indigenous or traditional knowledge that exists in Botswana and come up with a draft policy to regulate such knowledge. The study started in February 2011 and will run for a period of eighteen months. Up to six (6) million pula will be spent on this project.

IKS issues have remained unregulated without any policy to guide various sectors on the subject. It has been found out that with the renewed interest in IKS, foreigners have come into Botswana and acquired traditional/indigenous knowledge from some communities and used such knowledge as a basis of their research, which in the end brought about some scientific solutions with commercial value without such communities benefiting from the output of the findings i.e. sengaparile.

In some instances, protection of intellectual property rights have been acquired by the researchers without acknowledging the sources of the knowledge that informed the research, which then leads to the possibilities of the knowledge holders being excluded from using their knowledge because of intellectual property rights.

The IKS has been under extreme pressure and severe threat of erosion and marginalization due to modernization, urbanization and globalization. However, in recent years it has gained increased popularity after several studies highlighted that it is a valuable and an underutilized resource. There has been an increasing realization of the significance of indigenous and traditional knowledge in sustainable development. Due to this renewed interest in IKS, countries are now addressing the dynamics that affect IKS within their borders by developing IKS policies. For example in Southern Africa, South Africa has already developed one.

Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology through the Department of Research, Science and Technology has a mandate of providing leadership in scientific and technological research in Botswana through the provision of an enabling policy and legislative environment.

So far, the Ministry has addressed a press conference to inform Batswana about the study. The Permanent Secretary, Mr Carter Morupisi has also been featured in the national radio morning show program “Masa a Sele” where he explained what IKS is all about. Batswana also had an opportunity to comment in the same talk show program.In the meantime, the University of Botswana team of researchers is busy traversing the length and breadth of the country conducting the study as contracted by the Ministry.

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