Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Indigenous knowledge holds key to sustainable community development - Daannaa

BY EDMUND SMITH-ASANTE, KOFORIDUA
Dr. Henry S. Daannaa, Minister, Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs

Ghana’s Minister for Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs, Dr. Henry S. Daannaa, has indicated that research into indigenous practices of any people, is key to sustainable development of their community and thus advocated scientific knowhow of indigenous methods, to enable any form of development to be achieved.
Delivering the keynote address at the opening of a five-day training course on local and indigenous knowledge for community-driven water, sanitation and hygiene initiatives in Koforidua on Monday, March 11, 2013, Dr. Daannaa stated: “In other words, our effort to achieve sustainable community development will be very much enhanced if we undertake scientific research into our indigenous knowledge or traditional/customary way of doing things, so to speak.”
“Our focus as a nation must be to examine our indigenous skills with a view to sharpening our indigenous knowledge and thereby avail ourselves with these local methods or techniques in the solution of problems within our local communities,” the minister stressed.
In his view, “The ultimate objective of us all as Ghanaians is to be able to sit up and address with all seriousness the question of our indigenous knowhow or cultural potential,” saying it is the hope of the Chieftaincy and Traditional Ministry and for that matter the Government of Ghana, that all stakeholders including the academic and research institutions will join in the march on the road ahead to examine with a view to improving upon Ghana’s local indigenous capabilities.
In her introductory remarks at the start of the course, Dr. Afia Zakiya, Country Representative, WaterAid Ghana an international development charity and co-sponsor of the training, said as a former assistant professor in African studies and political science, she has for most part of her life researched into villages, cities and other aspects of life on the continent and has become convinced through those specific experiences that “many of the people I spoke to and who I met, very much had clear concepts and ideas of how they wanted their life to be.”
“They had clear ideas and concepts of what it would take to move their communities to a place of wellbeing materially, spiritually, socially and other kinds of ways,” she stressed.
Dr. Zakiya said it has thus been her mission as an African woman to do what she can when she finds herself in places of decision-making, to “support African solutions to African developments.”
She urged participants to ensure that both the theoretical ideas that support the African world view and African culture to development efforts, are made as simple as possible and that the practical experiences, field work, theories and concepts that are engaged in during the course are made feasible to people in terms of realities and experiences.
“I think if we are able to do that, by what we do this week, the programme will have served its purpose,” WaterAid Ghana’s Country Representative stated.
For his part, Mr Bernard Guri, Director, Center for Indigenous and Organisational Development (CIKOD), organisers of the training, lamented that native practices which were insisted on by community elders, such as carrying of a hoe by anyone attending to nature’s call in the bush, was to enable digging and burying of the faeces, but all that had stopped in the name of modernity and people are now defecating openly everywhere.
“We think that we need to go back and learn these things that they have used before and see how if we want to support them we can help them to do it in a better way and in so doing what is the new knowledge that we can bring to them,” he said.
Mr. Guri disclosed that CIKOD has decided to employ the endogenous development method, which only means using the indigenous or local knowledge that people have and which participants will be apprised of during the course.

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