Originally published at: http://humidtropics.cgiar.org/digital-libraries-for-better-access-to-information-in-remote-territories/
Although we are in the information age, information is not always available where and when we need it. This is especially true in remote territories of developing countries, where it remains a challenge to generate simple delivery mechanisms to provide local organizations and farm households with easy access to multiple sources of information 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 the Nicanorte Action Site. These digital libraries consist of collections of 300 to 500 relevant documents including books, manuals, guides, technical reports, popular journal pieces, and scientific articles, taking great care to include only publicly available documents with no restrictions on sharing.
Facilitating access to sources of relevant information allows farm households and farmer organizations to manage and modify their production and marketing systems in response to ever-shifting demands. By accessing and applying this quality information, rural communities and local organizations can also improve their capacity to manage and maintain natural resources. This helps rural populations in the territories to face the challenges posed by vulnerability and uncertainty.
Farm households and rural communities in the territories of Central America and Caribbean currently make farm and natural resource management decisions under extreme risk and uncertainty. It is evident that in these regions the current local knowledge systems are unable to fully meet the new demands that are arising, which require a more diverse, complex and holistic agenda.
Responding to farming communities’ demand for high-quality knowledge and information resources, Humidtropics provides valuable learning material in accessible, easy to replicate formats.
During 2014, four digital libraries were constructed and distributed in Humidtropics’ Nicanorte Action Site, based on the themes of sustainable coffee production, sustainable livestock production, Nicaraguan public policies, and rural women. Full copies of the digital libraries were made available to key members of our main partner organizations, who then ensured the information resources were copied and distributed 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 generated and work sessions will be held with the members of the Territorial Alliances to improve their skills in using 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 analyses and debates, helping local actors to make better decisions when facing challenges posed by climate change, volatile markets and resource degradation.
Blog by Falguni Guharay, Scientist, R4D Platforms, Humidtropics and PIM, CIAT; and Shadi Azadegan, Communication Specialist, Central America and the Caribbean, CIAT.