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For more than 15 years (from 1996 – 2011) the COMPAS network programme brought together experiences of NGOs in 12 countries (in South America, Africa, Asia and Europe) concerning their initiatives to support endogenous development: development based mainly, but not exclusively, on local values, knowledge, institutions and resources. The experiences have led to a better understanding of the role of biological and cultural diversity and of endogenous knowlege in development programmes. They have allowed those involved to articulate a number of basic principles uderlying the support of endogenous development.


Endogenous development is based on local people’s criteria for development and is aiming at their material, social and spiritual well-being. It is a process of change that places major importance in working with local communities and starting from people’s own worldviews, resources, strategies, and initiatives as the basis for development. It considers not only the material, but also the socio-cultural and the spiritual traditional and modern resources people have access to, in order to broaden options when formulating appropriate development paths. The process highlights the problems that many rural people experience when engaging with Western-based approaches that adopt a narrow materialistic and essentiallly economic vision of development.


To facilitate exchange of experiences and discussion on process and outcome, the COMPAS network has published a magazine (COMPAS Magazine on Endogenous Development, later called Endogenous Development Magazine). In several workshops and converences the experiences gained in the COMPAS network programme, together with experiences from the wider network, were discussed and assessed and conclusions on what has been learned were drawn. These efforts resulted in several COMPAS publications, compilated knowledge overviews as well as proceedings and training guides (see the COMPAS and CAPTURED publication list). Several of the COMPAS partners compilated overviews based on the endogenous knowledge of their own region (India, Africa, Asia).


Universities were also involved in the COMPAS programme and since 2008 three universities (in Ghana, Bolivia and India) have been working together in a special programme to build their own capacities for supporting endogenous development and implementing programmes for endogenous education and research: the CAPTURED programme.


In the process, the participating universities have acquired more insights into the social relevance and the foundations of the specific ways of knowing in their own cultures. Despite the marginal position of endogenous knowledge, in each case endogenous knowledge has great impact on the decision making in many areas of local people’s lives: farming, health practices, the ways in which communities use water, land, plants and animals, the ways in which they organise themselves, and the ways in which they express and live their spiritual life and values.


The aim of endogenous development is to empower local communities to take control of their own development process. While revitalising ancestral and local knowlege, endogenous development helps local people select those external resources that best fit the local conditions. Endogenous development leads to increased biodiversity and cultural diversity, reduced environmental degradation, and a self-sustaining local and regional exchange.

38 Issues in this Publication (Showing issues 7110 - 5019) |

01 Endogenous Development Magazine December 2007 - 2007-12-20

  • Ancestral Guidance in Africa
  • Inter-cultural Education in Peru
  • India: Traditional Herbal Medicines for Malaria Prevention

02 Endogenous Development Magazine - 2008-06-20

  • Home Herbal Gardens in India
  • Conflicting Concepts of Territory - Chile
  • Tanzania: A Venture into Intercultural Education

03 Endogenous Development Magazine, December 2008 - 2008-12-20

  • Small grains effective against food shortages
  • Intercultural hospital
  • Drawing onc culture to protect AIDS widows and orghans
  • Biodiveristy education
  • Biodynamic agriculture

04 Endogenous Development Magazine June 2009 - 2009-06-20

  • What mattters most for local wellbeing in Peru?
  • Proud to be an African
  • Merging livelihoods and ecology in the forest of Vietnam
  • A folk healer tells his story
  • Guru-Gola

05 Endogenous Development Magazine December 2009 - 2009-12-20

  • The social mobilisation approach facilitates community change in Sri Lanka
  • Promoting health care in India
  • Ghanaian community approach

06 Endogenous Development Magazine July 2010 - 2010-07-20

  • Bio-cultural community
  • Bio-cultural protocols 
  • The stuggle for a law on Sacred Sites in Guatemala

07 Endogenous Development Magazine June 2011 - 2011-06-20

  • Policy support for endogenous development
  • Seed diversity celebration in Peru
  • Ghanaian community protects sacred groves from mining
  • Holistic assessment program in Bolivia
  • Recognion and support for traditional anti-malarial programmes
  • Organic farming - India

Book 001 Food for Thought - ancient visions and new experiments of rural people - 1999-01-01

The contributors neither romanticize traditional knowledge nor reject western science since both have strengths and weaknesses.  Rather they argue that a reciprocal relationship between these sources of knowledge can be beneficial for rural development.  When respect is given to traditional functionaries such as spirit mediums, local priests, religious leaders, healers and elders and when their concepts are taken seriously, an opportunity can be created for mutual learning, exchange and a search for complementarity between indigenous and western knowledge.  Rural people, researchers and development organizations are challenged in this book to look for the sources of knowledge most appropriate to each specific ecological, social and cultural context.

Book 002 Ancient Roots, New Shoots - Endogenous Development in Practice - 2003-01-20

In the course of mankind's history, several cultures, each with their own religion, worldview, scientific concepts and technologies, have emerged.  The introduction of agriculture eventually resulted in the building of towns, the emergence of trade, as well as writing and accounting, the development of specialised professions, scientific discoveries, and schools.  Several early civilisations reached high degrees of sophistication and influence, especially in the Middle East, Mediterranean, Sounth Asia, and China.  Later, the Greek-Roman, Mayan, Inca, Arab, and western cultures gained influence.  The rise and fall of civilisations, with their domination, control, and exchanges of cultures and technologies, seems to be a phenomenon of all times through-out the world.

Book 003 African Knowledges and Sciences - 2005-10-20

African Traditional Knowledge (ATK), variously called rural peoples’ knowledge, indigenous knowledge, or cultural knowledge, among others, is as old as the existence of the African peoples themselves. This knowledge base has provided sustenance for Africans in a diverse, complex, and risk-prone environment. Spirituality is the bedrock of this knowledge system that makes it remarkably different from other knowledges/sciences. Bio-cultural diversity is another feature that characterises African traditional knowledges.

Non-Africans and so-called “educated Africans” have often denied recognition for this knowledge base since colonial times. Except in the field of health sciences and particularly for herbal medicine, music, culture and arts, very little has been done by science-based scholars on African knowledges.

In recent time, there has been an increased and renewed interest in African Knowledge Systems. A few scholars of so-called ‘hard sciences’ and development work have made token gestures at this knowledge base. Yet, a lot remains unknown, unexplained, and, in some cases, misunderstood. For those scholars who embrace and project African knowledges as an alternative form and source of knowledge, the challenge of legitimacy is often an issue. This challenge is often directed to forms of proof and legitimacy. Much as we cannot discredit Western science, we resist any attempts to use Western standards to measure ATK, for, African sciences, ancient as they are, have their own unique forms of proof and legitimacy.