SCIONA Knowledge Fair

1. Introduction

The Knowledge Fair is a major event under the EU-funded SCIONA project, entitled: “Co-designing conservation technologies for Iona-Skeleton Coast Transfrontier Conservation Area (Angola - Namibia)” which aims to bring together community members, researchers and other stakeholders, such as park managers, rangers, government departments, non-governmental organisations, to exchange knowledge on how to jointly realize sustainable ecosystem management for the new Iona Skeleton Coast Transfrontier Park. It is a platform allowing you to show your research to the communities and to get feedback from an indigenous knowledge perspective, whether it is on the use of camera traps, soil or vegetation maps, wildlife counts, giraffe re-introduction, etc.

Technologies are becoming omnipresent, even in remote rural areas with intermittent networks. Robust technologies such as camera traps and GPS devices, smartphones with apps and emerging technologies such as drones have been deployed in support of natural resource management in other countries. We anticipate that digital tools and data presentations co-designed with stakeholders will provide a shared platform facilitating a transdisciplinary dialogue and decision-making. Namibia has so far successfully implemented community-based natural resource conservation, with established methods of joint data collection.

While indigenous communities adjacent and living in the conservation areas have accumulated valuable indigenous knowledge over centuries, researchers and conservation practitioners have continuously collected and generated data, aggregated and synthesized to inform ecosystem management strategies, actions and further research. It has been widely recognized that indigenous knowledge is critical for biodiversity conservation and that it is essential to exchange this often complementary knowledge to improve ecosystem management. However, knowledge exchange and joint production of new knowledge is often hampered by the distinct knowledge systems and their means of dissemination. We are inspired by the eBario Knowledge Fair, a bi-annual event held in the rainforest of Borneo, where indigenous community members meet other stakeholders following a format consisting of an amalgamation of a scientific conference and community meetings and walks.

Under the SCIONA project, interdisciplinary researchers from NUST and affiliated scientists have collaborated with four Namibian conservancies, namely Marienfluss, Orupembe, Okanguati, and Epupa, as well as four communities in Iona (Angola), namely Cambeno, Monte Negro, Iona and Pediva. The Knowledge Fair, as the first of its kind in Namibia, will bring together those researchers, indigenous partner communities and other involved stakeholders to share their experiences and knowledge acquired.


2. Purpose of the Knowledge Fair

The purpose of the Knowledge Fair is to:

1) engage researchers, indigenous community members and conservation stakeholders into insightful and fruitful dialogues

2) foster Inter-community knowledge exchange (work and training done with one community can be transferred to other communities) especially across conservancies and even country borders

3) consolidate SCIONA’s researchers’ work and findings with the community

4) share indigenous knowledge and practices with researchers and other stakeholders

5) jointly strategize and identify practical solutions for an integrated ecosystem management

6) introduce and validate technologies that have been developed following a community-based co-design approach

7) explore new livelihood opportunities and training needs

8) provide an immersive experience of knowledge exchange and creation in a community context (versus academic conference)

9) promote IK in Namibia and beyond

10) establish further collaboration and research activities


3. Knowledge Fair plan/Structure

The Knowledge Fair follows a mixed format of scientific conference and community knowledge sharing activities such as:

1) Walkshops: Community-led river and ethnobotanical walks

2) Knowledge fair and trainings of skills and competencies related to natural resource conservation

3) Academic presentations of findings (with simultaneous translations)

4) Community meetings and focus group discussions

5) Narrative sharing of previous project experiences

6) Demonstrations and experiences of digital technologies and indigenous practices


4. Date

The date for the planned Knowledge Fair is 12-16 April 2021, whereby 12 April and 16 April are intended travel days. The Knowledge Fair itself will be held over 3 days (13, 14 and 15 April).


5. Venue

The Knowledge Fair will be held outdoors in the vicinity of one homestead near Epupa. Community members from the SCIONA partner communities are invited to join, while the Epupa community will co-host the event.


6. Who is expected to participate in the Knowledge Fair?

Participants will include representatives from the conservancies, the Universities, NGO's, the Ministry, Industry partners and interested individuals. 


7. Logistics

7.1 Accommodation arrangements

Every participant will be expected to make their own accommodation arrangements.

Community members will be requested to bring their own camping equipment and camp within the vicinity.

7.2 Food

Meals will be served during the knowledge fair.

7.3 Travel

The venue is about 900 km from Windhoek, on mostly tar road. From Opuwo to Epupa, the road is gravel but is in good condition.


8. Contact person

Chris Muashekele