n African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development - Indigenous knowledge systems - a rich appropriate technology resource

Volume 7, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 2042-1338
  • E-ISSN: 2042-1346
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Indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) comprise knowledge systems that have developed within various societies' independent of, and prior to, the advent of the modern scientific knowledge system. IKS from various cultures evolved into broad and comprehensive knowledge systems, such as those from ancient India, China and Africa, that addressed societal and traditional knowledge issues in various fields important to human survival and the quality of life, including agriculture, health and water, amongst others. In this paper, the IKS of India and China, with particular focus on agriculture and health, are examined for methodologies and received understanding, within the context of identifying and evaluating appropriate technologies for development. Although much work on the cataloguing and documenting of IKS has been completed in these two countries, there is a paucity of attention that has been paid to the scientific rationale and technological content and methodologies of these indigenous knowledge systems. In our work, we examine more closely the scientific and engineering rationale of selected indigenous technologies for agriculture and health that demonstrate a holistic approach to development for their societies. The evaluation reveals that many technologies classified as 'appropriate' for developing communities to address basic needs of water, sanitation and agriculture have their roots in indigenous knowledge systems that have survived in some form, albeit at a much diminished level. We demonstrate that these studies potentially provide valuable resources for appropriate technology development. The extensive history of IKS and practices in India and China provide a rich resource and a history of engagement, success and failure that could beneficially inform communities in their search for improved quality of life. The paper concludes with a preliminary evaluation of certain African knowledge systems in agriculture, water and health, and suggests an approach to conservation of these IKS to better inform development for social justice, especially on the African continent.

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