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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.

39 Contenido (Mostrando Ediciones 5019 - 5010) |

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

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.

Book 004 Moving Worldviews - 20/1/2007

Since 1998 the Compas programme and its network partners from Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe have been engaged in inter-cultural dialogues on development approaches with a focus on the South. They have studied the influence of worldviews on material and socio-cultural technological development, on scientific approaches, and on policies in different cultural contexts. A major observation is that in most non-Western worldviews there is a notion of three interrelated worlds: the material, the social and the spiritual. From the perspective of these cultures, sustainable development can only be achieved if there is a balance between the material, the social and the spiritual domains. Compas supports development that builds on local culture: its worldview, values, institutions, knowledge and practices. This approach is known as endogenous development, development from within. This approach presents challenges for practitioners, scientific communities and policy makers, not only in the South, but also in the North.

Book 005 Traditional Knowledge Systems of India and Sri Lanka - 20/1/2006

The Asian region is one of the major world civilizations that can speak of a legacy of sciences, technologies, arts, crafts and knowledge systems going back as an unbroken tradition for a period of over thirty centuries. However, the current day situation in this region presents a confusing scenario with respect to the future of traditional knowledge systems.

Book 006 Endogenous Development in India - 20/1/2007

The word Swadeshi is rooted in the Indian cultural context and may be said to be deeply embedded in the Indian psyche. During the freedom struggle, the nationalist leader, Balagangadhar Tilak made a declaration – “ Swaraj is my birth right” to the then British government. This marked a public declaration of a radical departure from the position that had been till then widely held and expressed, namely, to seek reforms and improvement within the broad framework of the British colonial administration. However, it was left to Gandhiji who returned to India in 1916 after a long sojourn in South Africa to give flesh and muscle to this concept. During the three decades that followed his return to India from South Africa he came up with a series of constructive programmes that were all clustered around the concept of Swadeshi and Swaraj. Swaraj may be loosely translated as – “Self rule or Rule in accordance with once own basic or innate nature”. However, Gandhiji died within a few months of attainment of political freedom by India. While his influence at the level of thinking and philosophy has been deep and pervasive in Indian public life, it is a fact that he was not around to shape the destiny of free India after January 1948. It is still an open question as to what difference it would have made to the development of free India had he been around in public life even for a few years after attainment of independence. However, it is a fact that he never had the responsibility of (or chose not to) administering a modern nation state. Thus we are left guessing in terms of how he would have interpreted Swadeshi and Swarajya as an independent nation was evolving its thinking in policies from 1950 onwards. A very large number of individuals and organizations in India are still inspired and guided by the thinking and philosophy of Swadeshi though they may or may not choose to use this particular term. This monograph is an attempt to provide a summary and overview of some recent experiences in this area reflecting the work of the COMPAS partners from India.

Book 007 Endogenous Development in Practice - 20/1/2007

This book presents the essence of endogenous development, as viewed by partners of the Compas network. Pictures were selected that best convey what is meant by 'development from within'. Compas is an international network that supports initiatives for endogenous development. The  partners in the network are community-based organisations, NGOs and universities in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe.

The pictures and the stories they tell were selected and shared during the Compas partner meeting in Poland (September 2006). At the same meeting a declaration was drafted, discussed animatedly and agreed upon (see page 62). We complemented our working sessions with art work, and the wood sculptures (see back cover) and iron monument (see page 65) represent an alternative way of communicating the essence of endogenous development.

Book 008 Nature Farming - 20/1/2007

The indigenous farming system of Sri Lanka was a close integration of livestock management (especially cattle and goat), mixed home garden system, upland dry farming of rice, other grains, oil crops and vegetables (Kekulama) as a component of "Chena"– shifting cultivation, and lowland rice–paddy cultivation with a very well organized centrally planned water shed and water management system. This is a good indication of farmers being fully occupied and gainfully employed as compared to today's rice farmers who are finding it very difficult to manage day to day expenditure.

Book 009 Learning Endogenous Development: Building on Bio-Cultural Diversity, Vol. 1, #9 - 1/1/2007

This book is about learning in and about endogenous development. Endogenous means ‘growing from within’. Endogenous development is, therefore, development based on people’s own resources, strategies and initiatives. The available resources and solutions developed at the grassroots include material, socio-cultural and spiritual dimensions. It is local people with their own resources, values, knowledge and organisations who drive local development. Support to endogenous development aims at strengthening the resource base of the local population, enhancing their ability to integrate selected external elements into local practices and to broaden the options available to the people, without romanticising their local views and practices.

Book 010 Endogenous Development and Bio-cultural Diversity - 20/1/2007

This book contains the papers that were presented at the International Conference on 'Endogenous Development and Bio-Cultural Diversity - The interplay of worldviews, globalization, and locality', held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 3-5 October, 2006.  The papers present the work of internationally recognised activists, experts, researchers, and policy makers in the emerging field of endogenous development and bio-cultural diversity. 

Endogenous development is here understood as the sum of views, values, and practices which marginalised, silenced, or oppressed societal actors create from within, in response to the initiatives of development coming from outside or being implemented top-down. 

Book 011 Endogenous Development in Africa: Towards a System of Experiences #11 - 1/1/2008

Endogenous development is mainly based on local strategies, values, institutions and resources. Therefore priorities, needs and criteria for development may differ in each community and may not always be the same as those of the development worker. Key concepts within endogenous developmentare:

  • local control of the development process;
  • taking cultural values seriously;
  •  appreciating worldviews;
  • finding a balance between local and external resources.

Book 012 Strengthening Endogenous Development #12 - 1/1/2010

This draft methodological guide draws from existing COMPAS documents. However it was generated primarily from the field experiences of COMPAS Africa partners at the methodology and assessment workshop organised in Wa, Ghana, from 12-21 April 2010. In this workshop, all COMPAS Africa partners shared their methodological approaches. The overall facilitation and preparatory framework for developing strategies, methods and tools, was developed by Peter Gubbels from Groundswell International. This guide therefore integrates compatible methods and experiences from COMPAS partner organisations as well as other organisations, including the Coady International Institute and Groundswell International.