SEATTLE, Washington – January 10, 2017 – JRS Biodiversity Foundation is grateful for the opportunity to support the efforts of University of Botswana Okavango Research Institute (ORI) to protect one of the planet’s greatest wetlands. The grant of $111,600 to ORI…
Program 3: Biodiversity Informatics Capacity and Partnership Building
Sub-Saharan Africa lacks the human and technical capacity to meet its needs for biodiversity data and knowledge. Biodiversity Informatics is not widely used nor is it valued. We will invest in creating the skills, adding the knowledge and tools, and developing the relationships that will help our grantee partners succeed.
Overall, our grantmaking will focus on partnerships, training capacity, strengthening of networks, reaching into other sectors, sharing of materials, and improved evaluation. Our three Capacity Building initiatives are:
- Initiative 1: In-Project Training – Builds in-project capacity with formal courses and coordination of training across our grant portfolios. As grants are developed within the Programs, we will survey capacity-building needs to ensure that all projects are getting the types of training needed to strengthen their internal capacity. Grantees in both Programs will engage in professional networks, short technical courses, and will have a small grant fund available to them for training.
- Initiative 2: Biodiversity Informatics Training – Funds long-term professional training, African training capacity, and links training to a small grant fund and project opportunities. We see these training courses as a way to build partnerships with agencies who share our interest in Biodiversity Informatics.
- Initiative 3: Regional Capacity Support and Partnerships – Includes investments in conferences and partnerships that strengthen African regional systems for Biodiversity Informatics.
In 2015, JRS refined its goals and focus to aim explicitly at building capacity for biodiversity information systems in sub-Saharan Africa. To date, JRS training has focused on data suppliers and been highly distributed among geographies, ecosystems, and species. Yet, the community of scientists active in biodiversity data collection and use is greater than the community that identifies with biodiversity informatics. There is a sizable cohort of scientists engaged in conservation whose informatics skills can be improved, and whose data should be mobilized for greater benefit.
Some of the lessons that shape our approach for 2016-2020 are:
- Capacity building of individuals is the key catalyst of broader change, and is supported by employment, professional networks, training courses, experiential learning, technology, and policy;
- Our training is not reaching audiences beyond those already working with biodiversity data;
- Experiential (on-the-job) training – often catalyzed through new hardware and software – is the major element of our past capacity building contribution;
- Formal training is critically important and in high demand. Formal training is most evidently valuable when connected to opportunities to apply training in professional settings;
- Training is most likely to create sustained capacity when targeted to working professionals and Master’s or Ph.D. levels;
- Transfer of know-how from outside Africa occurs when such transfers are explicit project goals and are also associated with transfer of authority and responsibility; and
- Training resources will only be put in the public domain when doing so is an element of project design or the motivation of the grant recipient.
Capacity News and Stories
Following up on an article in the The African Technopolitan Magazine in January of this year (previous news post), Dr. Aime Tsinda from the Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR) in Rwanda (project website) published a review of East African biodiversity informatics policies in the…
The rapid growth of Tanzania's Biodiversity Information Management Tool (BIMT) is turning heads. The first database of its kind in the country, the BIMT was created in 2011 by the National Land Use Planning Commission (grant page), and its growth is managed…
A new study of digitally-available plant data from Benin by JRS grantee Jean Ganglo and co-author Sunday Kakpo at Faculté des Sciences Agronomiques (JRS grant page) helps prioritize opportunities to strengthen biodiversity knowledge in the West African country. Ganglo and Kakpo's study evaluated freely-available…