Wednesday, 6 June 2007

The LEISA learning network

Brussels, 6 June. In the peer to peer session on learning networks, Wilma Roem showed how ILEIA has developed the worldwide LEISA (Low external input Sustainable Agriculture) Network.

She explained the process of collecting and validating knowledge that is taking place during the production of the LEISA Magazines. The editing of the material that ILEIA receives from the field based authors of the local experiences validates the knowledge that is exchanged by means of the published articles. The role of networking is very important in facilitating the exchange of knowledge.

The LEISA network is composed of ILEIA and 6 regional partner organizations that produce the LEISA Magazines in 5 different languages. These magazines are distributed to 40000 subscribers and five times as many readers all over the world. The information is available from the LEISA website portal as well.

The LEISA Magazines as an information system contribute to networking by the following process: The local social experiences in LEISA encourage local people through mutual learning to build local networks. The information system builds on local experiences in LEISA that enrich local experimental processes and stimulates interaction of social agents. The interaction of networks builds regional networks that bring together social experiments in LEISA. Through the information system this builds wider networks, nation wide and wider, to world wide. The information system builds the body of knowledge, makes it visible and validates the knowledge which contributes to the mutual learning process.

In the small group discussion the empowerment of local communities was emphasized. Learning from own experiments, taking part in campaigning for own rights, learning from colleagues encourages people and stimulates self confidence. This empowers communities.

To facilitate this process it is important to know exactly what target group you are aiming at and what change you want to reach for what purpose.

The added value of the LEISA network is based on the didactic editing of the received articles. A lot of effort (and money) is spent on this part of the knowledge sharing process. This editing increases the quality, ensures the reliability and this validates the knowledge.

By Wilma Roem, ILEIA

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