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.
ITOCA designated WHO Collaborating Centre
Following years of collaboration between WHO’s HINARI (Health InterNetwork Access Research Initiative) programme and ITOCA – as of October 2009, ITOCA has been designated as a- WHO Collaboration Centre (WCC) for training in access and use of Electronic Scientific and Medical Information after meeting the requirements of the – UN agency. Under this designation ITOCA will continue to promote, carryout outreach activities and strengthen capacity for use of HINARI and other electronic tools for accessing information and knowledge on health in Sub-Saharan Africa.
According to WHO, a WCC is an “institution designated by the Director-General of WHO to form part of an inter-institutional collaborative network set up by WHO in support of its programme at the country, intercountry, regional, interregional and global levels, as appropriate”. In line with the WHO policy and strategy of technical cooperation, a WHO collaborating centre must also participate in the strengthening of country resources, in terms of information, services, research and training, in support of national health development. ITOCA has been mandated by WHO to undertake outreach and training activities for HINARI since 2004 and has to-date carried out 44 training workshops in 36 Sub-Saharan African countries, training over 700 professional health workers.
ITOCA turns 10 – : A decade of information capacity building & advocacy in Sub-Saharan Africa
It all started as a small office in Harare, Zimbabwe responsible for TEEAL outreach and training under the Albert R. Mann Library of Cornell University in March 1999. The office was in addition mandated to spearhead promotion -and training in Sub-Saharan Africa for the Research4Life programs (AGORA, HINARI and OARE) in 2003, 2004 and 2006, respectively. To reflect its wider mandate the office transformed into a fully-fledged NGO, named ITOCA in 2005. To this end, ITOCA is now providing programme support for TEEAL, Research4Life and PROTA programmes in – region. With its head office in Pretoria, ITOCA has a network of offices in Zimbabwe, Kenya and Nigeria. ITOCA has to this day carried out -44 National E-resources training-of—trainer workshops in 36 Sub-Saharan African countries reaching out to 1550 professionals who have cascaded their skills to over 15 000 more users downstream. The first national training workshop was held in Harare in April 2004.
ITOCA-TEEAL East Africa Office opened in Nairobi
ITOCA in collaboration with Mann Library at Cornell University (USA) under the Scientific Information for Agricultural Education in Africa
project achieved another milestone this year by opening a fully fledged office which is housed at the University of Nairobi, College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences (CAVS). The ITOCA – TEEAL -East Africa Office will provide technical support, training and outreach for TEEAL as well as Research4Life programmes (AGORA, HINARI, OARE) in the East and Central Africa region. The office is headed by Dr Pamela Marinda who can be contacted email@example.com. Prof Agnes Mwang’ombe the Principal of CAVS oversees the project.
Regional AGORA-TEEAL Leaders workshop launched in Kenya
ITOCA in collaboration with the CTA of Netherlands launched a new training of the trainer model which seeks to empower trained participants with not only the technical skills but also the administrative/training skills to organize national e-resources workshops. Held in Nairobi from 1-4 December 2009, the Regional AGORA-TEEAL Leaders workshop brought together 17 information management professionals, researchers, lecturers and scientists from seven Eastern and Southern African countries. The trained participants will be provided with financial support hold national training workshops in their own countries starting in January 2010 with backstopping from ITOCA. A similar – workshop for West and Central Africa is scheduled for 19-22 January 2010 in Lagos, Nigeria. The objective of the programme is to empower more country level trainers who can have a wider reach to end users at lesser costs than having ITOCA trainers trying to cover the whole of Sub Saharan Africa.
ITOCA holds a one-day training workshop on Social Media and Web 2.0 tools
A one-day training workshop organized by ITOCA and Focuss.Info www.focuss.info was held at Damelin College in Centurion, South Africa on the 9th of December 2009. The workshop was attended by postgraduate students and lecturers from four universities. The workshop objective was to impart skills on the use of social media and web 2.0 tools for research and academic purposes. Overviews of social media tools for -communication, collaboration, multimedia, reviews and opinions; and entertainment were explored. In particular the session looked at blogs, wikis, facebook, linkedIn, dig, youtube, flickr, skype, yelp and virtual worlds. Social Bookmarking was a highlight of the day and an exploration of the use of Delicious enabled all participants to create their own user accounts and have hands-on experience – using Delicious and other social media tools. All the participants indicated that they had learnt a lot on social media tools and appreciated their value in education and research and not just for entertainment.
The cascading effect of our training workshops in 2009
Feedback from the ITOCA E-resources workshops trained participants:
“I have been using HINARI for the last couple of years. I was only using the Elsevier science publisher. After the training I felt I was using only a small percentage of the publications which are provided by WHO and other helpful organizations for us living and practicing science in the developing nations. Previously, I was almost wasting my time and abusing the HINARI website as I was supposed to read all unrelated publication in order to reach my specific and relevant articles. -If you were sending these e-mails before the training, I might not have time to respond as I would be downloading and reading the unrelated articles, but not now as I am doing so. The training was fortunate for me and other colleagues, who had the chance of attending this fruitful and friendly training on how to use the HINARI, for the health, and other important websites for other fields. As of the completion of the training I started to effectively use HINARI, saving my time and getting my target article almost swiftly. I would like to extend my gratitude and honor to Vimbai, his team, Losa and her team, ITOCA, ILRI, WHO, UNEP and FAO for providing this productive training and finally God bless you all abundantly.” Nigus Fikrie Telelefikrienigus@yahoo.com a Lecturer and PhD candidate in Medical Microbiology at the Faculty of Medicine, Addis Ababa University explaining how the ITOCA E-resources workshop held at ILRI, Ethiopia in September 2009 benefited him immensely
“I have continued to introduce the -[Research4Life] resources to my library clientele through one-on-one engagements. I have spoken to my students especially the final year students and graduate students of the value of AGORA, HINARI, OARE, and RROTA as information recourses. I have disseminated the UserID and Passwords of the databases among the students. I have also posted the UserID and Passwords in the library for library users notice” Ibrahim Addy firstname.lastname@example.org Librarian at College of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences at the University of Ghana giving feedback on the work he is doing after attending a training workshop in Ghana, 07-10 July 2009.
“Am happy to inform you that I organized a training 3 weeks after the workshop to introduce some staff of my Institution to all the resources. About 50 people (approximately 20% of scientific and technical staff) attended the training. The training took place at the time that I did not have the password to AGORA HINARI and OARE. As soon as I got the passwords for HINARI and AGORA, I took time to demonstrate how to access those databases directly from the websites in a seminar. I still look forward to train other staff that did not have access to the first training. I will keep you posted on any further progress I make” Michael Osae email@example.com a Researcher at the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute in Ghana detailing the great work he is doing to impart the skills learnt during our training workshop.
“Thanks for your mail. Indeed after the training I became one of the trainers who organized and conducted library user instruction on E-resources. The training was conducted for two weeks. The training was done within the library premises and there was also an external exhibition on E-resources at our Pavillion-. Most of those who attended were previously unaware of the existence of those databases. The course made them better users of the databases. The course material provided in the CD format during the workshop was also quite useful for the trainers
we believe the workshop was quite useful.” Jamleck Ngugi, firstname.lastname@example.org the work he is doing after attending the workshop held at JKUAT, Nairobi, Kenya in January 2009
TEEAL (The Essential Electronic Agricultural Library) program www.teeal.org 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 http://www.aginternetwork.org/ 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) www.who.int/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) http://www.oaresciences.org/ 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, zoolo