NEPAD SANBio IKS Node aims for greater heights

SANBio Network secretariat posing for a group with the North West University (Mafikeng campus) Vice Rector, Registrar and IKS Node coordinator
Acting SANBio Network Manager Dr Ereck Chakauya explaining the purpose of the visit to the North West University (Mafikeng campus) management

One of the ways the Southern Africa Network for Biosciences (SANBio) Secretariat strengthens stakeholder engagements, shares lessons and improves partnerships is through conducting site visits. These visits help the secretariat to identify challenges and established synergies between existing nodes. In December, the SANBio secretariat visited the SANBio Indigenous Knowledge System Node (SANBio IKS Node) at the North-West University Mafikeng campus. The SANBio secretariat, represented by Dr Ereck Chakauya used the opportunity to share SANBio’s Business Plan 2013-2018, mobilise resources, get updates on the node’s progress in delivering its mandate, and find ways to align with the university’s priorities.

SANBio met with the University Rector, Vice Rector and Registrar and also had a courtesy meeting with the Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and Technology. The delegation also had a combined meeting with the directors of schools of Research and Postgraduate Studies (SPSR), School of Agricultural Sciences (SOAS), School of Environmental and Health Sciences (SEHS), and the Centre for Applied Radiation Science and Technology (CARST).

The university representatives shared a lot on their expectations and experiences with SANBio:

 Prof Mashudu Davhana-Maselesele, Rector of North-West University Mafikeng said, “We want to collaborate as much as we can, as a rural university we always experience challenges like funding and collaboration, whenever we receive visitors we know they are bringing something that we are benefiting from.”

“We need this collaboration to assist us and to share resources, infrastructure and intellectual capacity. Let’s start talking about brain sharing rather than brain drain whenever there is something you see we also want to make contributions in many ways in terms of public lectures and workshops. We are also looking for international collaborators and we think NEPAD-SANBio is key to ensure that we have those intellectual collaborators.” she concluded

Prof Eno Ebenso, the North-West University Executive Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture, Science and Technology said, “We are appreciative of the work NEPAD-SANBio has been doing for the IKS node particularly on funding. The IKS centre has made progress since it became SANBio’s IKS centre of excellence in 2009. We should take IKS to a higher level; we are trying to capacitate our colleagues to fit in. Funding and collaboration are our major challenges particular in agricultural sciences and we are really looking for a collaborator nationally or regionally, so that we can promote student mobility.”

“The IKS Node aims to improve its links with other stakeholders including the youth by enhancing its visibility on the SANBio and Faculty websites and newsletter. Among other community engagement, the node would like to launch a mobile Intellect actual Property (IP) clinic with the aim to empower communities on issues of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). The node collaborates with other stakeholders to raise awareness on the role of indigenous Knowledge and biodiversity in human health through the establishment of clinic gardens. The node will continue to play role in capacity building through training of postgraduate students in IKS.” says Prof Materechera.

The SANBio secretariat remains committed to strengthening its nodes and support them in ensuring that they achieve their mandates.

By Mehlolo Maphanga