ITOCA (Information Training and Outreach Centre for Africa) is Africa’s leading librarians training organization based in Africa.ITOCA is a capacity building organization aimed at enhancing information and communications technology (ICT) skills for African librarians,information specialists, scientists, researchers and students in Sub-Sahara Africa. Formerly, TEEAL Africa Office, ITOCA Albert R. Mann Library TEEAL programmefor Africa. The organization, which has professionals in 3 countries (Nigeria, Uganda, and Zimbabwe) and liaison contacts in 35 was established in Feb. 1999 as a marketing and support office for Cornell University’s African countries, has trained over 1,000 information professionals,in 33 Sub-Sahara Africa countries in the last seven years.ITOCA , with backstopping from the TEEAL and AGORA projects at Mann Library (Cornell University) and FAO, the HINARI project at WHO and ORAE project at UNEP has a mandate to carry out outreach and training activities that promote the successful adoption and use of these three programs throughout Africa.
Issue No 13-14 August 2009
TAE Deans and Registrars’ Seminar 21-22 May 2009
ITOCA hosted the -Tertiary Agriculture Education (TAE) – Deans and Registrars’ Seminar from the 21st to the 22nd May 2009 in Centurion South Africa. The seminar was attended by 24 delegates from fifteen countries across Africa and during the workshop they learnt about, explored and mapped a sustainable way forward for the future of the portal.

The two-day seminar  focused  on the role played by universities, colleges and NGOs in supporting  access to comprehensive, up-to-date information on agricultural education and extension in Africa by providing an accurate profile of available institutions, human capital outlay and human capacity in the sector for future development through the open access TAE Portal.The format of the seminar entailed presentations, plenary sessions, practical sessions on how to use the TAE Portal and group discussions.

The TAE-Africa portal is accessible from and tracks important information on capacity developed at the participating agricultural universities and colleges. It contains an online database tracking data on the number of institutions; colleges and faculties of agriculture;  programs  and courses offered; student population; faculty staff and their qualifications, number of graduates per annum and related data. The aim is to provide free and easy access to accurate and up-to-date data that is relevant to policy-making and development work in SSA.  

HINAGOA User Forum
We are happy to announce that the HINAGOA User Forum is back on track, fully functional and more efficient. We apologise for the non-activity for sometime due to the technical upgrades and platform changes that were being done by our hosts. The forum focuses on discussions concerning the three main programmes HINARI-AGORA-OARE (Research4Life) and related topics on the use of e-resources. Conferences, exhibitions, workshops, grants and user experiences are also posted onto the forum.   ITOCA is inviting all people who are interested in becoming members of this group to send in their email addresses, names and institution to or and we will send you an invitation.

CTA Supports institutions to purchase TEEAL
CTA, the technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation ACP-EU is accepting applications to assist universities and research institutions in qualifying African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries in their purchase of a TEEAL set. For more information about the form and conditions, please contact Vivienne Oguya at CTA by email: or visit the ITOCA website

TEEAL is a full-text digital library of 149 agricultural journals made available at low cost to universities, agricultural research organizations and government ministries in eligible low-income countries. Journal coverage starts in the 1990s and is updated annually. TEEAL has a searchable database of citations from CAB Abstracts, BIOSIS, Econlit and PubMed. TEEAL is an offline tool – no Internet or phone line required – that you can share on a local area network, or use on a standalone PC

ITOCA’s TOT approach continues to pay dividends
The demand for training on use of HINAGOA programmes continues to grow and the Training of Trainer approach used by ITOCA is meant to see a cascading effect at institutional level by the trained participants. The rich mix of participants which includes end users of information like lecturers has seen a good varied activity base at institutions where lecturers are complimenting efforts by librarians to promote use of these rich resources. In this issue of our newsletter we would like to highlight two participants from Kenya and Nigeria who have done something spanning from the HINAGOA training workshop.

Dr Nancy Budambula is a lecturer in the Department of Botany at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) and was an attendant at the Kenya HINAGOA workshop held at JKUAT in January 2009. Between January and February Dr Budambula trained a total of 13 students split into 3 groups of 4-5-4. Dr Budambula used a very simple uncostly approach to teach her students as she says in her observations “ The maximum number of trainees per training session should be limited to four when using AICAD Cyber. This allows the training to go at one corner of the cyber without disrupting normal operations of the cyber.  When training at this cyber the trainer should sitting in the middle with two students to the left and two students to the right. Ideally I would need 3 hours to train the Postgraduate students and 2 hours to train the undergraduate students”.

In her sessions she covered “Optimizing Google search” where she taught among others, how to do phrase searching and using the advanced search feature. Although she introduced the students to all the three programmes she concentrated on HINARI as she found it more useful for her students. Students were taught how to search by subject area, publisher and they were also shown how to use Free Books for Doctors where “they were able to open and use the 10  available genetics textbooks”. They were also taken through how to do a basic search using PubMed  and finished off by talking about use of the institutional password. As she reports “To ensure that they use the resources, assignments with research topics involving the use of HINARI were given”. This story from Kenya is a good example of the role lecturers are playing in promoting the awareness and use of HINAGOA programmes.

During the training workshops there is a session where participants are put into groups according to what they do and they discuss and come-up with what they would consider some of the best ways to promote and train on use of these resources. Alice Alije Odu who was in the University librarians group had this to say about what she did when she returned to her institution: “Before coming for the training, we were already registered with OARE, subsequently in the course of the training I tried registering the institution with HINARI and AGORA as we never got feedback from the former registration the institution made.
On completing the training in May, 2009 this year, I enlightened the library staff first on the use of the database (OARE) seeing I was better enlightened. And following the unanimous decision taken in our group (University Libraries) to orientate users in new session. Our new students started their new session first week of June and I used the opportunity during their orientation to spread the information about OARE. I gave all present (both old and new students, faculty members and other staff) the username and password and duly informed them of the of using these from outside the campus or country. I equally informed them that we are still waiting for HINARI and AGORA password”.

PROTAbase included on ITOCA training portfolio
We are happy to announce the inclusion of PROTAbase to our training portfolio. PROTAbase joins an ITOCA outreach and training stable that includes HINARI, AGORA, OARE and TEEAL. PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa) is an information brokerage programme by PROTA Foundation, establishing an easily accessible and comprehensive information system on 7,000 useful plants of tropical Africa. PROTA’s objective is to synthesize the dispersed information on the useful plants of Tropical Africa and to provide wide access to the information through web databases, books and CD-ROMs. PROTA’s knowledge synthesis pays ample attention to the conservation status of the African useful plants, and thus provides evidence of PROTA’s commitment to the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity. PROTAbase can be accessed from

Professional Development Program Reaches Global Audience

Cornell NutritionWorks, at, is an interactive, web-based continuing professional education program for food, nutrition and health practitioners sponsored by the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. A new global health feature highlights activities and topics of interest to practitioners in developing countries. These include the following:

  • Food Policy for Developing Countries: The Role of Government in Global, National and Local Food Systems.  A course including seven lectures and over 60 case studies that aims to strengthen university training in policy analysis for food systems, with emphasis on developing countries, using a social entrepreneurship approach.
  • Maternal Mortality. A series of lectures covering topics such as defining and assessing maternal morality in the US and worldwide, HIV and infant feeding options, and generating political priority for maternal mortality.
  • Biofortification.  A series of lectures including an overview of the HarvestPlus biofortification program, how biofortification of staple food crops can benefit human health in developing countries, and the role of consumer education in the acceptance of biofortified foods in Uganda and Zambia.
  • Preventing Childhood Obesity. A 6-week in-depth course that guides participants in taking an ecological approach to preventing childhood obesity in their local communities. International members who have taken the course to date have come from Canada, Malta, Indonesia, Sudan, Greece, Mexico, and Egypt.
TEEAL (The Essential Electronic Agricultural Library) program is an innovative scholarly scientific database developed specifically for agricultural and natural resource scientists, lecturers and students in developing countries by Cornell University in association with the Rockefeller Foundation, NY, USA. TEEAL, available on CD-ROM and on a hard disk that can be put on your Local Area Network, gives access to full-text literature from the world’s leading publishers.

AGORA (Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture) is an online program that gives educational, government departments and not-for-profit organizations, in selected developing countries instant online access to over 900 journals in agriculture and related sciences for free. Led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in collaboration with Cornell University, WHO and the Rockefeller Foundation, the goal of AGORA is to increase the quality and effectiveness of agricultural research and training in low-income countries, and in turn, to improve food security. Researchers, policy-makers, educators, students, technical workers and extension specialists now have access to high-quality, relevant and timely agricultural information via the Internet.

The Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative (HINARI) is part of the United Nation’s Health InterNetwork (HIN) project, and is coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the lead agency. It is a collaboration between the WHO, publishers and other health care content owners intended to provide biomedical and health care research and guideline information to non profit academic and research institutions, governmental and policy making departments in low income countries. Access to this information will generally be provided at low cost or in most cases free by the Publisher, to institutions in many countries with a Gross National Product (GNP) per capita of US $1,000 or less according to the World Bank Report, December 1999.

Online Access to Research in the Environment (OARE) an international public-private consortium coordinated by by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Yale University, and leading science and technology publishers, enables developing countries to gain free access to one of the world’s largest collections of environmental science literature. Over one thousand scientific journal titles owned and published by over 200 prestigious publishing houses, scholarly societies, and scientific associations are now available in 70 low income countries. Another 36 countries will be added by 2008. Research is provided in a wide range of disciplines, including biotechnology, botany, climate change, ecology, energy, environmental chemistry, environmental economics, environmental engineering and planning, environmental law and policy, environmental toxicology and pollution, geography, geology, hydrology, meteorology, oceanography, urban planning, zoology, and