Khula App – Abstract

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Small- scale urban farmers in Soweto contribute to the food security of the region however like many of their fellow farmers in the developing world are often marginalised due to highly competitive commercial global farming practices and poor access to information and markets. The aim of the Khula Soweto Farmers’ Mobile Application Project  was to leverage the affordances of contemporary digital technologies in order to fulfil the existing and future needs of Soweto farmers.  The design process involved a number of participatory interventions that utilised the Contextmapping co-design methodology. The objectives of the project were to create an interaction design blueprint and low-fidelity digital prototype that reflected the farmers motivational and instrumental needs.  The design project took place in conjunction with a Masters study that sought to via the Research as Design Methodology evaluate the viability of utilizing context-mapping to co-design digital technologies in resource scarce communities. (Design Society Development DESIS Lab)

Khula App – Promoters

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University of Johannesburg Design Society Development DESIS Lab South Africa Terence Fenn Promoters: Terence Fenn Department of Multimedia, Faculty of Art Design and Architecture, University of Johannesburg Design Society Development DESIS Lab Soweto Region D Farmers Forum Izindaba Zokudla Acknowledgements: Department of Computer Science, University of Cape Town

Khula App – Governance and policymaking

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The Khula* project was envisioned and enacted in partnership with Izindaba  Zokudla (an initiative that promotes multi-stakeholder engagement in the South African urban agriculture sector) and the Soweto Region D Farmers Forum. A core focus of the Khula project was to include participants from the Soweto farming community in all aspects of the design-decision making process. Other stakeholders in the project included the University of Cape Town (Masters study project), University of Johannesburg, Department of Multimedia as well as the Design Society Development DESIS Lab. (Design Society Development DESIS Lab) *Khula is isiZulu for ‘Grow’ or ‘Growing’

Khula App – Social Interactions and relations

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In the Khula project, emphasis was placed on using digital technologies to support and enhance existing positive aspects of the Soweto farming network. Thus the design for the final application facilitates communication with existing NGO’s and organisations active in Soweto, encourages social knowledge mirroring the strong social practices of African society as well as symbolically representing and literally describing the value of farmers to the broader Soweto community. (Design Society Development DESIS Lab)

Khula App – City and environmental planning

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The Khula application is designed to be an easy to use and low-data consumption information porthole that focuses on key permaculture concerns pertaining to planting and managing crops and protecting crops from natural threats. Additionally, the Khula app is designed to provide information and tools to farmers in order to firstly, help them to be more effective in the business of farming and in that way compete with large scale farming concerns and secondly, contribute to the local economy of Soweto. Examples of these tools include a ‘by-product’ recipe book, a crop-yield forecaster and a farm-planning calendar. (Design Society Development DESIS Lab)

Khula App – Production, distribution and consumption

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The Khula App is intended to support the production and distribution of food in two key areas. Firstly, one of the major barriers to success for Soweto farmers is their inability to access information related to farming as well-resourced public libraries are scarce in Soweto and while most farmers can and do access the Internet, they often struggle to locate information that they understand. In this regard the Khula app aims to deliver information at the appropriate communication level. Secondly, due to their geographical dispersion, it can be difficult to co-ordinate farming activities. The Khula app is designed to allow farmers and farming stakeholders to easier mange collective production and distribution. (Design Society Development DESIS Lab)

Khula App – Skills Training and Design Education

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This project is part of (but not exclusive to) a broader farming training network loosely assembled under the Izindaba Zokudla umbrella. As such the application is designed to support other training activities in Soweto. In terms of design education this project impacts directly towards furthering knowledge related to ICT4D. (Design Society Development DESIS Lab)

Khula app – Job Creation

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The Khula design project aims to support farmers to create sustainable, economically and environmentally, farm-based businesses. (Design Society Development DESIS Lab)

Khula App – Storytelling and Visualisation

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At a theoretical level, this project applied Wright and McCarthy’s (2010) approach to the generation of creative understanding through storytelling. This approach was embedded in practice through the application of the contextmapping process, which encouraged farmer-participants’ to describe their own experiences and aspirations through narrative accounts, generated in response to creative visual artefacts, they had made.  The designer’s understanding of the farmers’ experiences, gained from the storytelling activities, were mapped visually, and presented back to the farmers for confirmation or amendment. This iterative process moved towards the ‘creative understanding’ of what the farmers need and what was feasible and viable in terms of the design team and technological platforms. (Design Society Development DESIS Lab)