An Analysis of Indigenous Knowledge Legislation and Policies in Kenya
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Since the dawn of history, humanity has always sought more knowledge to feed families, stay healthy, argue with neighbours, and understand the immediate environment, among other issues. Before scientific approaches of knowledge discovery emerged, local ways of solving problems were already strongly established. These ways have persisted to date and comprise what is known as indigenous knowledge (IK). As society scientifically developed, IK became a neglected area whose potential as a resource in development was forgotten. This neglect has led to myriad socioeconomic challenges affecting food security, environmental conservation, health and social cohesion, among others. Therefore, the need to rediscover and mainstream IK in development is great. This need is anchored on the understanding that IK is the basis for local-level decision making in agriculture, healthcare, food preparation, education, natural-resource management, and a host of other activities. One of the perspectives of enhancing the creation, use and perpetuation of IK is enactment of facilitative policies and legislation. This chapter analyses the IK legislation and policies in Kenya and the extent to which they have been implemented and thereafter recommends strategies which can be used to enhance the impact of IK in socioeconomic development in Kenya. Data that informed the study leading to this chapter were collected through content analysis of the existing IK policies and legislation. Additional data were collected through key informant interviews with information science professionals and policy makers. The study revealed that several legislative and policy provisions on the regulation, preservation, management, use and development of indigenous knowledge exist in Kenya. However, there are many gaps in the content and implementation of these provisions which should be addressed to enhance their impact on the promotion, growth and perpetuation of indigenous knowledge in Kenya. The findings here may be used by information practitioners, policy makers and communities to enhance the creation, use and impact of IK.
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