Photo credit: Eric Ngang
I joined the AEN in 2015. I got fully engaged in 2016 when I took part in the conference in Pretoria and presented my work on using local knowledge and practices for climate change adaptation decision-making. Climate change is a polycentric development issue that disproportionately affects developed and developing countries. Failure to value in-country capacities to respond to this global challenge has seen the proposed solutions using the same neo-colonial perspective embedded in the imbalances of power relationships between the developed and developing countries.
The communities of developing countries are not only victims of climate change. They can co-create solutions to the global challenge using their local knowledge and practices. However, their knowledge systems are often side-lined or given tokenistic consideration in decision-making forums. Attending EVIDENCE 2016 and doing a presentation focusing on the link between local knowledge and global problems was the first time I did an international presentation on this particular research.
My presentation aimed to bring to the attention of the diverse attendees how evidence of Local Indigenous Knowledge and Practices (LIKP) was relevant for climate change adaptation decision-making. Secondly, I was keen to steer the debates towards EIDM work that shift to new participatory approaches that privilege local knowledge, locally defined needs, and priorities in responding to climate change above external or prescriptive technical ‘expertise.’ Participating in the three days conference, with each day dedicated to the three interdependent themes of the conference, engage, understand, and impact shaped my perspective and work on EIDM. The - Engage (with diverse stakeholders to generate evidence), Understand (what evidence exists and how to use it), and Impact (linking Impact of EIDM to outcomes) continuum have been at the centre of my EIDM work on climate governance in Africa long after joining the AEN.
The feedback I received during and after Evidence 2016 encouraged me to continue with my work, and the exposure around presenting his research opened new opportunities to explore this. For example, after the conference, I set up different communities of practice (CoP) to gather, evaluate, and compare evidence using the community’s local indigenous knowledge and practices (LIKP) for climate change mitigation and adaptation. One of these was with counterparts from Cameroon, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia. These initiatives have brought to the attention of policy actors the importance of LIKP for developing decisions that are responsive to the needs of those most impacted by climate change. I have been enthused by these initiatives' success and am more committed to exploring more.
In 2018 I embarked on an ambitious project to develop a deeper understanding of how law-making on climate change works, who and what is involved, and what the issues and challenges are for incorporating LIKP using Kenya as a case study. My project is innovative and forward-looking in that it brought to the table the voices and experiences of real people and institutions involved as drivers of climate change and as actors in trying to adapt to it. This Project has been supported by the National Geographic Society and the Global Challenges PhD Scholarship at the University of Birmingham Law School in the United Kingdom.
Using the Engage, understand, and Impact continuum, I have been able to work with a mixture of actors, including state and non-state actors, understand the knowledge and power dynamics and institutional arrangements in the context of Kenya and how this mediates incorporation of LIKP in the policy and law-making processes on climate change. Through this PhD research, I have developed an innovative framework that can guide evidence policy and law-making on climate change. This framework is particularly relevant to low-income countries currently considering developing climate laws incorporating the views and knowledge of those directly impacted. This body of work has earned me the title of one of the runners-up in the 2020 Africa Evidence Leadership Award (AELA). This was a significant achievement for me personally and professionally.
Looking forward, first Evidence 2022 offers an opportunity to engage “Evidencers” across the continent in the context of numerous global challenges affecting Africa in diverse ways. I feel that after ten years, it is time for AEN to get back to the drawing board to develop innovative ideas about supporting EIDM that is transformative and capable of accelerating poverty reduction and inequality on the continent, bearing in mind the impacts climate change, conflicts and pandemics on the continent. One of these areas would be generating evidence that supports the decolonisation in various spheres of policies and actions on the continent. Secondly, As an umbrella community of practice, there is an enormous strength in numbers. However, the network might become more impactful if communities of practices convene to push forward agenda on specific evidence policy issues and report back to the bigger group could be another new idea to examine during the mutual learning space of Evidence 2022.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in published blog posts, as well as any errors or omissions, are the sole responsibility of the author/s and do not represent the views of the Africa Evidence Network, its secretariat, advisory or reference groups, or its funders; nor does it imply endorsement by the afore-mentioned parties.