MAARIFA (Transformative Knowledge for People, Forests and Climate in Tanzania) is a new research project collaboration of interdisciplinary team (involving the fields of ecology, political ecology, information technologies, political science, geography and anthropology) from the University of Dar es Salaam, University of Dodoma and University of Copenhagen funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark (MFA) through the administration of Danida Fellowship Centre. The project aims to examine the use of digital citizen science technologies on how and to what extent it can facilitate transformative and decolonial knowledge for climate-friendly development in Tanzania. Protection and restoration of forests ecosystems has potential to store carbon, reduce emissions and support human adaptation and resilience. However, forest management in the Global South often relies on knowledge systems inherited from colonial times. This ignores local communities and indigenous peoples as key actors if climate action is to be successful, sustainable and just. Digital citizen science technologies such as smartphones have been proposed as a means to enhance local involvement in knowledge production. But does it bring about actual transformative change in forest-climate initiatives or are they overhyped techno-fixes? Can they contribute to decolonizing climate knowledge production? This project brings together universities and community organizations in Tanzania to critically examine the use of digital citizen science in ongoing forest carbon and resilience initiatives. It investigates how and to what extent digital citizen science can empower citizens and local knowledge systems, and what the implications are for policy and practice. It will examine digital citizen science initiatives in Iringa, Kilosa, Kilwa and Simanjiro districts.

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