(Writing this here in response to an urgent request from @nadia as she prepares a meeting.)
The concept note that @anique.yael prepared as part of her job application was meant for the United Nations Democracy Fund. Applications for 2017 have since opened. We have decided to apply, since it rests nicely with our Open Village operations in MENA and helps strengthen our ties with parts of the community.
The original concept note will be treated only as a point of departure, because (a) the priorities for 2017 have since been unveiled and (b) as we thought about it, things got clearer in our head. We are now envisioning a multi-site citizen science project in the MENA region, such as civic monitoring of water quality. Data are collected, released as open data and discussed online (“What are we seeing? Can we trust our data as evidence? Can/should we do anything to improve water quality?”). Both the datasets and the results of the discussion are then offered to the local authorities as a contribution.
The idea is:
Democratic activism by young people can be problematic, as élites fear it might degenerate into unrest and view it with suspicion.
On the other hand, all countries in the region are clamouring for STEM.
That makes science a safer (and rhetorically more powerful) way to participate.
Additionally, people in our community are worried that biohacking is coming to Africa in an “imperialistic” way.
So, we use the project to train (northern) Africans in basic wet lab skills and data interpretation. We propose a model of mentoring; slightly more senior people in the biohacker community train “absolute beginners”, like Rachel did in the Open Village Festival.
We give the project a strong gender focus, calling in the female biohackers we know to both make up an advisory board and get involved on the ground as mentors) and prioritising women and girls as participants to the project. Again, this is about preventing the biohacking scene to become female-unfriendly as the software hacking did. It can be done in Africa, where the scene is still embryonic at best and nonexistent at worst. When the first spaces open, basic wet lab skills will be more than most people have.
We partner up with local community spaces. Ideally some of them will end up starting biohacking labs.
We cover the following UNDEF priority areas:
- Gender Equality
- Community Activism
- Youth engagement
- Strengthening civil society interaction with Government
- Tools for knowledge
Does this sound like the kind of stuff they would consider doing?
We could do this as a one-country project or a multi-country one. Which path do we choose? 80% of the fund is allocated to national (vs. regional or global) projects. On the other hand, I imagine that 90+% of the applications will be for national projects. I personally think we should exploit ER’s regional scope.
Any suggestion on the partnerships?