Wikipedia as a knowledge channel for sustainable development in Uganda

NOD Shared Space February 16, 2016 10:20 - 10:45

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Dan Frendin

Poverty, climate change and an increased pressure on nature as a result from intensive farming and urbanization make it important to spread knowledge and to take actions related to sustainable development (SD) for the citizens of Uganda. These efforts are in line with the new SDGs and the new Sustainable Development Agenda 2030.

One problem to be addressed is how to disseminate knowledge about health, new farming methods, water, DRR and nature conservation in an efficient manner. This challenge addresses also the need for improved media literacy, critical thinking and reflective actions by citizens. Access to knowledge for everyone at a very low cost is fundamental for a vibrant democratic society. Novel uses of Wikipedia, mobile learning and ICT can address those needs.

In January 2014, a pilot project started in Mbazzi, Uganda with funds from Wikimedia Sweden and the Wikimedia Foundation. A Wikipedia center was created with the aim to teach local villagers to share their practical knowledge and experience, as well as to write articles about sustainable development in Luganda Wikipedia. WWF Sweden financed an “education tour” for farmers of Mbazzi, teachers, students, project leaders and journalists during a month in the Wakiso and Masaka districts.

A year later, the center had opened a new culture of sharing knowledge in the village. In the summer of 2015, the first Wikipedia Convention was held at Makerere University and a group of dedicated Ugandans formed a core group that will be the drivers of developing Wikipedia as a tool for education and sustainable development in Uganda. WWF together with The Uganda Red Cross Society will soon start a new Wikipedia Center in Masaka with the Mbazzi center as a model.

In the East Africa ESD Programme, run by WWF and Nature Uganda, many schools and local groups are interested to participate with articles about sustainable development in Luganda Wikipedia. Several organizational and technological challenges need to be addressed in order to achieve the goals above.