Wikimedia Blog/Drafts/Ganda Wikipedia as a knowledge channel for sustainable development

Ganda Wikipedia as a knowledge channel for sustainable developmentEdit

Through the nature films on TV we get a picture of ”Africa” as a continent of savannas with big hordes of antelopes like impalas and topis as well as zebras. They grace peacefully together with warthogs and now and then a hippopotamus. That is indeed what is happening when you come to Lake Mburos national park in Uganda. The increase in biological diversity according to the number of species and individuals is very clear when you enter the borders of the park. The grass is so graced that it looks like a lawn in a city park. You really understand that the ecological bearing capacity is big in the original ecosystems.

But outside the national parks endless of areas with peasantries cultures of ”matoke” (a food banana), coffee, cassava and other crops are spreading. Farmers that has to adopt to a changing climate where the rain- and dry seasons does not come as usual. They shall supply a rising population where many people leave the rural areas and have hopes for a better existence in a city. The pressure against the rests of savannas, papyrus swamps and rainforest in increasing.

It is in that context our Wikipedia project ”Ganda Wikipedia as a channel for sustainable development” comes in. By letting the locals, farmers, students and other interested people document and describe their crops, new cultivating methods, medicine herbs and other things that

dealing with practical sustainable development, a new consciousness is emerging. When the local conservation organizations like Nature Uganda and Uganda Red Cross volunteers are writing about health issues and the importance of, an how to manage, the ecosystems and ecosystem services there is maybe a chance to create a sustainable society? Through mobile phones the knowledge can spread fast.

Mbazzi is a village 36 km west of Kampala. The area was covered with rainforest but has now a mosaic landscape. In this village the first Wikipedia Center was opened in the beginning of 2014.

It all started with a Wikipedia center in the little village Mbazzi 36 km west of Kampala in Uganda. The village was totally abandoned during the civil war in the 1980:th. All the original rainforest that surrounded the village has been cut down. About 40 of the farmers that now live in the village have been coming together and formed the organisation ”Mbazzi Farmers Association”. They try to get new wealth in the village with new agriculture methods like agroforestry and development project like ”Rainwater harvest”. One of the people in the village that have a farm is Paul Kiguba. He is also teacher and deputy in a secondary school in Entebbe. When he participated in a conference Wikimedia Sweden had about ”Sustainable development in Wikipedia” in Stockholm in march 2013 he got an idea to teach the farmers to write articles of all the subjects they learn about when the rebuild the village Mbazzi. They should write it in their local language luganda in the luganda edition of Wikipedia. This edition is often called ”Ganda Wikipedia”.

In january 2014 the center opened with support of Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Sweden. The mobile operator Orange supported the project with a internet connection. WWF Sweden financed an education of the farmers with the help of the two Wikipedia ambassadors Paulina Bäckström and Caroline Gunnarsson. The also educated volunteers and staff of the WWF projects in the surroundings and teachers and students on different secondary schools and universities in Entebbe and Kampala. Even a group of journalists was educated in how to spread knowledge via Wikipedia.

An instructor, Peter Kitala, was employed. He came three times a week to the center and continued to teach the villagers computer skills and helped them with how they write articles.

Mbazzi Wikipedia Centre is situated in a little house in the middle of the village.
Mbazzi Wikipedia Centre has three computers and a little reference library.

Mbazzi Wikipedia Center operated during 2014. In january 2015 the Wikimedia Foundation grant was ended. The center have been open during the first half of 2015 with private funding but it needs more funding to be able to continue.

The project to use Ganda Wikipedia as a channel for sustainable development are now spreading. In february 2015 a core team of the WWF project about education for sustainable development in East Africa was educated in how to write articles in Wikipedia. Discussions have been on starting a new Wikipedia center at the Uganda Red Cross local office in Masaka together with WWF. The Red Cross can with its volunteers translate articles from for example Wikiproject Medicin and use the articles in the local health project they are carrying out in the rural areas.

Dan Frendin

Teacher in natural science and sustainable development



Mbazzi Wikipedia Centre is running on solar power from batteries.

This text have been published in swedish in Wikimeda Sweden blogg: --NatureDan (talk) 18:43, 9 October 2015 (UTC)

All photos: Dan Frendin CC SA-BY

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The Ganda Wikipedia in Uganda is a tool for practical sustainable village development. Farmers and NGO:s can spread knowledge about new agriculture methods, the need of preserving biological diversity and health issues for example.

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NaturDan, Wikimedia Sweden


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