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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 Issues in this Publication (Showing issues 9110 - 9101)

CM1 Experimenting Within Farmers' Worldviews - 1999-01-01

The COMPAS Newsletter hopes to promote the exchange of experiences on cosmovisions, sustainable land use and endogenous development. We are aware of the risk of slipping into the well-worn traditions of descriptive anthropological research or of presenting another ’trick’ for extension projects to impose outside ideas in local communities. Supporting endogenous development requires a new orientation and energy. By stimulating an intercultural dialogue, indigenous institutions can be strengthened, enabling the communities to re-enforce their position locally, regionally and internationally. Insiders, the people in the communities, can reverse the process of cultural erosion aggravated by globalisation and actively experiment with combinations of ancient and new knowledge.

CM2 Bio-Cultural Diversity - 1999-01-10

In this newsletter we have tried to present our understanding of the links between culture and biodiversity. We have also tried to give room to cultural expressions by showing how people make art and use music to communicate with their ancestors; how they paint totem symbols on their houses to express their connection with nature and its spirits.

CM3 Vitality, Health and Disease in Soils, Crops, Animals and People - 2000-01-07

These pictures and the articles in this newsletter reflect the great diversity of concepts, approaches and practices that still exist related to healing people, animals, plants and environments. Vitality and health have a dimension beyond the purely physical and biological level. In most traditional cultures people believe that to maintain the vitality and health of human beings, plants, animals and environments, they have to address forces both in the natural and spiritual domain.

In their work, the Compas partners appreciate the strengths and challenge the weaknesses of traditional practices and cultural heritages. Understanding the cosmovision of modern and traditional cultures is a major challenge for anyone working with development. In each situation, the best combinations between traditional practices and practices from other parts of the world can be identified through a process of participatory assessment and development. Compas seeks to enhance this exchange of concepts and approaches between different cultures.

CM4 Methodologies to Support Endogenous Development - 2001-01-03

The main activities are documenting indigenous knowledge and carrying out experiments based on local concepts. The traditional leaders are involved in implementing activities to improve indigenous practices relating to agriculture, human and animal health and natural resources. The experiences and insights gained in this process are shared between partners and other development professionals in order to stimulate an intercultural dialogue and support cultural diversity. The Compas programme involves NGOs and universities in 12 countries in Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe, and is supported by regional and international co-ordinators.

CM 5 Looking Back - Looking Forward - 2001-01-12

This issue of the Compas Magazine deals with experiences of endogenous development. The cases presented are those gained by Compas partner organisations, but also other inspiring examples are included, such as engaged activism from Thailand and building on traditional veterinary knowledge of Tzotziles in Mexico. The third Compas International workshop (September 2001) was a motivating event for the staff of participating organisations to share their experiences, consolidate their commitment and make plans for the future.

CM6 Dealing With Controversies - 2003-01-09

The issue in front of you is the outcome of this process. It starts with some theoretical reflections relating to controversies and endogenous development. Then practical examples of controversies and ways of dealing with them are presented within four major themes: traditional leadership and governance, gender, traditional agriculture, and traditional health practices.

All human societies have a variety of ways of dealing with controversies, both latent and open, which are based on their own cosmovision and culture. Technological, social, ecological, economic or cultural change often lies at the basis of controversies. The authors of this issue present experiences of how they have dealt with these controversies. We hope they will be of use for learning, dialogue and debate. Readers are invited to present further ideas and experiences on dealing with controversies in development issues.

CM7 Sharing Visions on Local Worlds: Community Diagnosis for Endogenous Development - 2004-01-09

This issue of Compas Magazine tries to find some answers to these questions, and present interesting cases, both from within and outside the network of Compas partner organisations. Some of the conclusions so far are that community diagnosis can be an empowering process for the community. It enhances dialogue within the community, and between the community and organisations of development support. In this ongoing process of communication, cultural awakening, creation of unity, community assessment and participatory action are important elements. We hope that this issue provides interesting insights for you, and welcome all reactions and further experiences with endogenous development.

CM8 Strengthening Local Economies

In this issue, several authors indicate the causes of poverty in their area of work. For example Barkin (p.41) points at the processes of cultural oppression and agricultural modernisation that affected the indigenous peoples in rural Mexico; Satheesh (p.20) presents the influence of the Public Distribution System of food aid in rural India, which affected the traditional agricultural system and food sovereignty. Strohalm and Reijntjes (p.14) also point to the accumulation of money, and thus of power in the hands of a small group of people, as one of the causes of poverty. This leaves less powerful people and countries indebted

CM9 - Endogenous Development Goals - 2005-10-20

In this open issue, readers were invited to share their experiences and insights on various aspects related to endogenous development.  Authors could focus on indigenous and religious visions on development; introduction of the indigenous curriculum into education; strengthening indigenous values and governance; local resources rights; methodologies to strengthen the local economy

CM10 Learning From Within - 2006-01-07

This issue, Compas Magazine 10, presents experiences of learning and education within endogenous development, both from within the Compas network as well as from like-minded organisations. The articles present examples and practical experiences of how local ways of learning can be strengthened, and where possible and relevant, be complemented by conventional ways of learning. We hope the examples may inspire you to take them into account in your own situation. It is quite possible that you will need to re-invent the methodologies presented, in order to find your own appropriate ways to learn and work towards endogenous development.