Voice of the Farmers in Tanzania

Tanzanian farmer Mama Rehema Maganga using a smartphone to interview Mr. Hamisi Rajabu. Photo: Sauti ya wakulima

A current researcher in my doctoral program, Z-node, is Mexican artist and mobile phone developer Eugenio Tisselli. Eugenio’s latest project is Sauti ya wakulima (The voice of the farmers in Swahili), a smartphone communication system for farmers in Tanzania. Eugenio has written a ‘mobile message’ about this project for National Geographic where he says:

On January 2011, my colleagues and I traveled to Tanzania to conduct a series of interviews with farmers living near Bagamoyo, with the purpose of engaging them in the creation of a collaborative knowledge base about the effects of climate change, using smartphones as tools for observation and a web page to gather the recorded images and sounds. My mind was full of questions at that time. Was it technically possible? Did the farmers know about smartphones and the Internet? And, most importantly, would they be willing to get involved?

Although most if not all of the farmers Eugenio was working with had never even opened a browser because Internet connections are so rare in these remote areas of Tanzania, they were enthusiastic about using smartphones to upload images and texts. Eugenio continues:

The farmers at Chambezi not only struggle because of insufficient infrastructure and unreliable markets for their products, but also face challenges such as changing rain patterns, drought, scarcity of underground water and new pests and plant diseases. However, they know that by sharing their knowledge on how to cope with these problems they can find ways to overcome them. They also hope that, by communicating their observations to extension officers and researchers, they can participate in the design of new strategies for adaptation.

Eugenio from http://www.libroflotante.net/autores.htm

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