Pilot training in traditional knowledge integration for local stakeholders in Guyana

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As the Darwin Initiative project ‘Integrating traditional knowledge into national policy and practice‘ completes year three of implementation, the project team found themselves extra busy as 2020 began. Lots of work went into fine-tuning and finalizing material for the training course “Traditional knowledge integration for conservation and development”. Aimed at representatives of governmental organizations, civil society groups/NGOs and Indigenous leaders, the course aims to build capacity of stakeholders, not only be more knowledgeable of traditional knowledge, but also to better use traditional knowledge within their work.

As part of the development of the course, various relevant organisations were consulted to better understand what content might best be covered and what might be the most appropriate approach for its delivery. Based on these discussions, the course was developed to include an online learning module to be followed by a face-to-face training workshop. As a pilot, ten organizations were identified to participate in the training. These included the Environmental Protection Agency, Protected Areas Commission, Guyana Forestry Commission, Guyana Lands and Survey Commission, Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs, North Rupununi District Development Board and the Kanuku Mountains Communities Representative Group.

Participants were sent an introductory email that providing them access to the online learning materials in the form of an e-module and webinar. They were also notified of the compulsory 2-day training workshop to follow. On the 3rd and 4th February 2020, participants met together in the boardroom of the Environmental Protection Agency to be engaged in a combination of presentations and group activities. Facilitators included the project staff, namely, Lisa Ingwall-King, Jay Mistry, Deirdre Jafferally, Rebecca Xavier and Sean Mendonca.

Participants gained insight into the importance and relevance of traditional knowledge to conservation and development. There were several opportunities through the course for them to reflect on their own work at their respective organizations, to see opportunities for potential traditional knowledge integration or in some cases how it might be improved. A strong component of the training focused on promoting the approach of community owned solutions, and directly linked to this, participatory video as a way to engage Indigenous peoples in addressing local issues and to encourage greater dialogue with decision-makers. Last but not least, there were discussions on the development of a Traditional Knowledge National Action Plan – why is it important? What processes could be followed to ensure an evidence-based and participatory approach? What factors need to be considered to best promote its implementation at the national level?

With some excellent feedback from the participants, we’ll now be finalizing the training course for further implementation later in the year

Deirdre Jafferally
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Deirdre Jafferally has 17 years’ experience working in community based wildlife management and conservation. Deirdre first started working at the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development, Guyana in the area of environmental monitoring. Recently, Deirdre has focused her interest in community resource management and Indigenous knowledge in the pursuit of a PhD exploring the implications of socio-ecological changes on Indigenous knowledge and practices, and its impact on forest conservation. She holds a BSc in Biology and MES in Sustainable Development and Ecological Monitoring.