Expanding African Access to Global Scientific Literature in Agriculture, Environment and Health
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World Ag Info Project Design Team
Since 1999, several free or low-cost electronic scientific journal delivery programs have been implemented to close the serious information gap in food, agriculture, health and medicine. They make available to teaching and research institutions in 114 of the world’s poorest nations the equivalent to a research library with the highest quality journal content. These inter-related programs include: 1) TEEAL (The Essential Electronic Agricultural Library) [www.teeal.org]; 2) AGORA (Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture) [www.aginternetwork.org]; 3) HINARI (Health Internetwork Access to Research Initiative) [www.who.int/hinari]; and 4) OARE (Online Access to Research in the Environment) [www.oaresciences.org]; aka (T/A/H/O). Where scientists have access, these programs are having a transformative impact on research and education.1 However, in most African countries, lack of Internet connectivity, inadequate bandwidth, no or reduced library budgets, and low information literacy skills among librarians, faculty and students limit full use. To increase access to and use of these powerful research and education tools, the current successful inter-agency model of T/A/H/O capacity building coordinated, by the South Africa-based Information Training and Outreach Centre for Africa (ITOCA), will be scaled up over five years with existing and new partners. Existing partners include FAO, WHO, UNEP, Cornell, Yale and Michigan State universities, CTA, INASP, ILRI and the publishers who provide the content. All training is carried out in partnership with local universities or institution. Major components would include: 1) Distribution of LanTEEAL sets (200-400 depending on funding) with necessary backstopping and peripherals; 2) Eight 3-day national Train-the-Trainers workshops per year in English, French and Portuguese depending on the country; 4) Equipping Regional Training Hubs in East and West Africa to carry out more tailored and advanced institutional training; 5) Higher level Agricultural Information Literacy training to expand the core of African library professionals able to teach digital literacy skills in agricultural sciences and assist in integrating information literacy into university curricula, with special reference to such initiatives as e-Agriculture, AGRIS, etc.
WorldAgInfo Project Solution Scenario 4: Technologies and Information Exchange Systems. Based on the deliberations of participant groups in Workshop 1, the WorldAgInfo Design Team drafted a problems and solutions summary document (available within Section Three of the Final Report). This is one of several potential solution scenarios to emerge through that process. These were in turn used to inform proposed information projects generated by Workshop 2 participants in Livingstone, Zambia (available within Section Two of the Final Report).
World Ag Info Project
Information Systems; Agriculture; ICT; Agricultural Development; International Development; Agricultural Education