CitSci Africa Association
Citizen Science provides an opportunity of supplementing scientific research that is obtained through traditional research methods by involving regular people in the society to generate quality data. Consequently, citizen generated data (CGD) is now considered a powerful addition to information collected by governments and international agencies for the monitoring and evaluation of social environmental situations and for policy makers in decision making. A case in point is the use of the data to monitor and hence fulfil the sustainable development goals (SDGs). The reality of the importance of CGD was brought home through the active participation of the United States International University-Africa (USIU-A) members in the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) Conference in December 2017 held at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Headquarters, Gigiri Nairobi. Following the University’s active participation at the UNEA and with the support of senior management, the University expressed interest in hosting Africa’s Citizen Science on campus. An announcement that USIU-Africa had been nominated to host the first African presence of Citizen Science was made at the UNEA closing plenary and subsequently the University hosted other global Citizen Science organizations at an event to launch Citizen Science Africa.
Given the absence of any continental citizen science organization in Africa and following the announcement at the closing UNEA Plenary, USIU-A hosted a high level segment of UN Global Citizen Science delegation on Monday 4th December 2017 with a purpose of experience sharing and helping Africa to set up its own Citizen Science initiative. Among the delegates were members of already existing associations of Europe (European Citizen Science Association), North America (Citizen Science Association), Australia (Australian Citizen Science Association) and Asia (Citizen Science Asia).
Thereafter, an interim committee consisting of interested stakeholders was selected to spearhead the formation of Citizen Science Africa (CitSAf) with USIU-A being awarded the honor of being the lead institution in the setting up of the association.
Selected Committee members included:
- Maina Muniafu – USIU-Africa (Co-Chair)
- Jimmy Macharia – USIU-Africa (Co-Chair)
- Edith Amuhaya – USIU-Africa (Secretary)
- Xavier Francis – University of Nottingham, UK
- Dick Omondi – Smart Development Foundation
- Jusper Ronoh – ILRI
- Faith Mutavi – ILRI
- Charles Mwangi – GLOBE Program Kenya
- Brian Waswala (ex UNEP)
Subsequently and in preparations for USIU-A participation at the March 2019 UNEA4, the Vice-Chancellor requested Prof. Njeri Wamae, Dean/SPHS to spearhead the University’s participation steps towards registration of CitSAf and development of this proposal. Following this, USIU-A delegates (Edith Amuhaya, Maina Muniafu, Jimmy Macharia and Njeri Wamae) fully participated at the 2019 UNEA4 in March (Figs.2-3). Among others, the USIU-A Delegation contributed to the drafting of the Citizen Global Partnership Declaration (Attachment 1 and link below) that was delivered and the Belmont Forum Sessions. On the sidelines, the USIU-A Delegates hosted a high level governance meeting of the Global Citizen Science Partnership (GCSP) comprising of the global citizen science associations as well as some of the Selected Committee members above on the USIU-A campus on 11 March 2019. The opening ceremony was officiated by DVCASA, Prof. Ruthie Rono (Attachment 2). At the conclusion of the governance deliberations, Prof. Njeri Wamae and Dr. Edith Amuhaya were elected into the GCSP technical committees.
On request and invitation by USIU-A CitSAf, Martin Brocklehurst the GCSP Coordinator graciously offered the team a session on association registration familiarization on March 15th 2019. The USIU-A representatives included School of Graduate Studies Research and Extension, Advancement, Legal and the USIU-A CitSAf team), Fig 4. Martin took the team through various options for registration drawing on examples from other established citizen science associations and in particular the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA). In regard to ECSA, Martin observed that Imperial College London lost the hosting opportunity to the Natural History Museum, Berlin, Germany due to tardiness in decision making in spite of showing early interest and spearheading the registration of ECSA and hence cautioned the team (USIU-A) to avoid such a pit fall and losing this strategic opportunity of being the African continent host for the association.
PURPOSE OF CitSAf:
To increase the involvement and responsibility of residents in African countries towards the conservation and improvement of their environment (including socio-cultural aspects), with enabled resource access, through monitoring procedures and influencing of policies in a bottom up approach.
- To identify and promote responsible, adaptive and sustainable solutions in environment, energy, health and business sectors for and by citizenry
- To be a repository of citizen science projects briefs, case studies and activities in Africa
- To seek funding and resources as well as provide support, advise, training and funding for high performance computing and citizen science initiatives
- To provide leverage, membership and a platform for organizations and individuals to articulate, promote and lobby for citizen science and HPC activities in Africa
- To leverage and mobilise resources for the betterment of the demographic dividend of African populace for employment creation
- To bridge the gap between STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical) subjects, High Performance Computing (HPC) and citizen science for identification, development and promotion of innovations, traditional indigenous knowledge insights and sustainable solutions that solve/alleviate Africa’s problems
- To promote solution based cross-border and regional promotion and utilisation of citizen science and HPC in Africa
- To take such steps by personal or written appeals, private meetings, public meetings or representations to Parliament, government entities and other bodies as may be deemed expedient to promote and advocate for any of the objects of the Organization
- To raise, secure and utilise funds for the attainment of any or all objectives of the Organization, and to do such other things as are incidental or conducive to the attainment of these objectives
- To continually recruit members on the continent of Africa and beyond including the Diaspora on an individual and corporate basis
- To organise community structures that enhance scientific, economic, environmental and sociocultural discourses around existing challenges and potential solutions iii. To create open data processes both in collection and accessing.
- To develop (with communities) technological devices with the ability to capture data and others to provide simple solutions
- To develop affiliations/partnerships that enable greater access to institutional, technological and financial resources for improving community environments
- To assist in graduate studies for African/Diaspora students pursuing projects related to community environment and built environment, green energy, health, blue economy and business sectors
- To take such steps by personal or written appeals, private meetings, public meetings or representations to Parliament, government entities, public environment regulators and other bodies as may be deemed expedient to promote any of the objectives of the Association
- To raise, secure and utilise funds for the realization of objectives of the Association, and to do such other things as are incidental or conducive to the attainment of these objectives
- Individuals carrying out measurements that provide data for social, economic and environmental factors in society. These may be members of other global citizen science associations
- NGO’s, CSO’s and Faith-based organizations that are directly involved in citizen science activities in Africa
- Individuals holding traditional and indigenous knowledge (TIK) in Africa
- Institutions (both public and private) that have data collection projects in Africa including Demographic Surveillance Surveys (DSS), Metrological etc
- National based citizen science associations across the African continent
CitSAf MODUS OPERANDI:
- Participate in organizing community structures that enhance scientific, economic, environmental and sociocultural discourses around existing challenges
- Create open data processes both in collection and accessing (existing data from governments and national agencies too expensive)
- Develop (with communities) technological devices with the ability to capture data and provide adaptable and sustainable solutions
INITIAL PLANNED ACTIVITIES:
- Set up a functioning secretariat with a staff of four (4) fulltime staff (Director, Program Assistant, Finance Officer and Community Service Expert) working with an Advisory Board of 5 - 7 members
- Host a stake-holders workshop to get regional partners on board and also concurrence on proposed aim, objectives, activities, structure and budgets. This will involve the generating of a list of stakeholders as well as the identification of current running projects in Africa. We already have up to 50% of this
- Setting up a website to raise the profile of CitSAf Association
- Organize community structures that enhance scientific, economic, environmental and sociocultural discourses around existing challenges on the Continent
- Create open data processes both in collection and accessing (existing data from governments and national agencies too expensive)
- Develop technological devices with the ability to capture data and others to provide adaptable and sustainable solutions
- Developing affiliations, fundraising and both incubating as well as assisting in the execution of nascent citizen science projects
- Develop an incubation hub for community-friendly instruments for data collection utilizing innovative and promising technologically gifted individuals on the continent
- Support graduate studies for African/Diaspora students pursuing projects related to community and built environment, green energy, health, blue economy and business sectors
- Environmental sustainability across the whole continent of Africa
- Natural resource sufficiency for communities on the continent
- Increased resilience to climate change impacts on the continent
- Improved standards of living and increased income generation from stable environments
- Improved health leading to improved realization of economic potential
Figure 1. Schema on Envisioned Balanced Target for Natural Resources Sufficiency for African Communities
Attachment 1 (a) Citizen Global Partnership Declaration at 2019 UNEA4 Closing Ceremony
Attachment 1 (b)
Click Here to download
The link to the official recording of the UN Major Groups presentation to the Plenary Session at 2019 UNEA4.
WELCOME REMARKS BY PROF. RUTHIE RONO AT THE CITIZEN SCIENCE GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP GOVERNANCE MEETING AT USIU-AFRICA ON MONDAY, MAR 11TH 2019
“On behalf of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, University Management, Faculty, Staff and Students, I am extremely humbled, to welcome you all members of the Citizen Science Global Partnership to USIU-Africa.
It is indeed a great honor for you, the Citizen Science Global Partnership, to have selected USIU-Africa as the CSGP venue for the second year consecutively. We are glad to host you all.
CITIZEN SCIENCE ACTIVITIES AT USIU-AFRICA
Although the Vice Chancellor Prof. Paul Tiyambe Zeleza has requested Prof. Njeri Wamae, the Dean, School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences to spearhead Citizen Science-Africa, the activities are open to faculty and students from all the schools and all other Citizen Science partners in Africa.
Currently the achievements and initiatives at USIU-A include:
- The university received a donation of a mini High Performance Computing computer that will be very instrumental in harnessing and processing data received from citizen science activities from communities.
- For example, the Department of Computing in the School of Science and Technology, colleagues of Jimmy Macharia, namely Sylvester Namuye, and Leah have been collecting data from devices installed in communities farms in the project dabbed “Citizen Observatory”
- In the same Department of Computing in the School of Science and Technology, Jimmy’s project involving citizen science people in contributing to reduction of road carnage is at the stage of:
- Looking for partners to collaborate in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data Analytics to detect speed bumps and sharp corners (blind spots) on our roads using already collected 245 000 data points collected from 25 car trackers on public transport vehicles on our roads to train the computer.
- Looking for partners to collaborate in using GPS locations and images of speed bumps and sharp corners on our roads sent by citizens from their mobile phones.
- Looking for partners to use AI and the collected data to use text-to-speech to warn drivers of impending speed bumps and sharp corners when about 100 meters away.
- There are several other projects that are being carried out by students and faculty in various communities that collect data. However for the sake of time allow me to proceed on to the next and final remark – Citizen Science Africa
CITIZEN SCIENCE AFRICA
You are aware that in our last meeting at this same venue, the university offered to host and spearhead the registration of Citizen Science Africa. The university is committed to this undertaking.
To this end:
- USIU-Africa has hosted 6 Stakeholders meetings of Citizen Science – AFRICA towards their formation.
- USIU-Africa has volunteered 3 faculty to Citizen Science – AFRICA interim officials of the Steering Committee:
- Prof Maina Muniafu- Interim Chair
- Prof Jimmy Macharia- Interim Co Chair
- Prof Edith Amuhaya- Interim Secretary
- USIU-Africa is a registered member of Citizen Science America to enable early start of faculty and students to globally engage on citizen science initiatives and promote awareness of Citizen Science in Campus, communities and policy makers.
CITIZEN SCIENCE AFRICA OUTLOOK
- Strengthening and supporting the Steering Team
- Working with our Legal Department to fast track the registration
- Collaborating with stakeholders to increase citizen activities locally and other African countries.
- Leveraging our (Hosting of Citizen Science Africa) proximity to UNEP Kenya offices to increase engagement”.