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Developing a new platform for African Indigenous Knowledge

Preservation and Visualization of African Indigenous Knowledge for Resilient Food Systems

The World Bank has recognised that African Indigenous Knowledge (AIK) is innovative and unique among local and subsistent smallholder farmers, and it is central to sustainable food production and enhancing biodiversity and natural resources in many poor, rural societies. AIK refers to tacit knowledge held in different languages, cultures and skills passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth. AIK is a key driver of food production, preservation and consumption for more than 80% of citizens in Africa, and can therefore assist modern efforts of reducing food insecurity and hunger. However, the documentation and dissemination of AIK remain a big challenge confronting librarians and other information professionals in Africa, and there is a risk of losing AIK owing to urban migration, modernisation, land grabbing and the emergence of relatively small-scale commercial farming businesses.  

This project aims to explore the potential of STFC data science and citizen science for creating the first interactive, digital, open infrastructure along with ethical standards for collecting, preserving and disseminating AIK of agriculture and food production, preservation and consumption practices. The digitalisation, promotion and utilisation of AIK, skills and practices in agriculture and food production constitutes a valuable way to increase and sustain resilient food system and to achieve Zero hunger (SDG 2), good health & Well-being (SDG 3), ensure sustainable production and consumption (SDG12) and reduce climate change impacts (SDG 13) .

Learning from AIK, by investigating what local communities know and have, can improve understanding of food production and consumption, in particular in times of stress or shocks affecting the food systems and communities. Thus, the platform will be useful for local populations, research and policy-makers, and it could lead to transformative innovation in the food system, creating a fundamental shift in the way the UK supports sustainable, modern food production efforts in Africa.

Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Dr Steven Sam
Dr Steven Sam - Dr Steven Sam obtained a PhD from the University of Queensland (Australia), where he received the UQ Outstanding Higher Degree by Research Theses Dean’s Award in 2016. Steven’s research activities centre around ICTs and society, human computer Interaction (HCI) (including HCI for Development) and computing for social good (including AI for social good and responsible AI). Steven’s research makes effective use of new computing tools, methodologies and designs to amplify social impact solutions that deliver real change in society. He draws on a range of approaches such as ethnography, user-centred design, participatory design and data-driven approaches to develop and evaluate the use and impact of context-based technology solutions for complex societal problems. He has worked closely with partners from academia, industry, development agencies and government institutions to deliver research innovative projects in healthcare, agriculture and education in Africa.  Steven is the founder and co-leader of an interdisciplinary research group (Computer Science for Social Good) at the Department of Computer Science, Brunel University London.

Related Research Group(s)

kids on laptop

Computer Science for Social Good - Our group works with partners in the Global South to lead and promote interdisciplinary research in the field of computer science and social good. We focus on investigating and developing new ways and innovative technologies to address challenging socio-economic problems.

woman in slums

Equitable Development and Resilience - Centred on development and social justice issues, our group continually reflects upon how individual and collective agency can contribute to meaningful change around climate action and sustainability across Global North and South nations.

Partnering with confidence

Organisations interested in our research can partner with us with confidence backed by an external and independent benchmark: The Knowledge Exchange Framework. Read more.

Project last modified 14/11/2023