Rising from the Depths Innovation Projects
The Mida Creek, Kenya
The GCRF Network Plus, Rising from the Depths Network funds innovation projects in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Madagascar. These projects will fill the knowledge gaps that currently limit the way Marine Cultural Heritage (MCH) contributes to social, cultural and economic sustainable growth in Eastern Africa. The network believes that MCH has an important, but so far unappreciated, role to play in the long term success of coast and marine development. The Network is being coordinated by the University of Nottingham in collaboration with the Universities of Roehampton, York, Bournemouth, Cambridge, Uppsala (Sweden), Ulster and Eduardo Mondlane (Mozambique). It is funded for four years, 2017-21, by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Global Challenges Research Fund Network Plus scheme.
In the first Innovation Projects funding call, £94,039.37 was awarded to Caesar Bita from National Museums of Kenya, Dr Wes Forsythe from Ulster University, Dr Mark Lamont from the British Institute in Eastern Africa and Simone Grassi and Penti Turunen from the Documentary Institute of Eastern Africa. The project, entitled MUCH to discover in Mida Creek, aims to explore how residents of Mida Creek, Kenya can benefit from the rich marine cultural heritage that surrounds them. It brings together marine archaeologists, women’s groups, traditional boat builders, and digital creatives to engage with a range of stakeholders whose livelihoods converge on making use of the resources in Mida Creek, Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, Gede National Park, and Watamu National Marine Park.
Caesar Bita, Principal Investigator
The focus on Marine and Underwater Cultural Heritage (MUCH) as a co-designed forum tackles some of the most pressing development challenges at Mida Creek: gender inequality, deforestation, rising sea levels, depleted fisheries, and unsustainable tourism. Activities funded through the project include archaeological surveys, the creation of a digital platform, workshops on traditional boat and canoe building; working with a local women’s group, to relate their existing alternative and additional livelihood strategies based on ecotourism to marine cultural heritage; and educate school children through organised trips to Mida Creek by developing a local curriculum. The project is creating pathways to community resilience and sustainable development by recognising and enhancing the maritime heritage of some of Kenya’s most important National Parks.
Principal investigator Caesar Bita, Head of Coastal Archaeology, National Museums of Kenya reflected that; ‘For the last 10 years, I have undertaken research in the area of maritime cultural heritage. I have realized many communities do not understand the potential Marine and Underwater Cultural Heritage has. Through this arts and humanities based project, communities now realise that this can be harnessed for their development and are ready to support its conservation’.
Co-Investigator Dr Wes Forsythe, Senior Lecturer in School of Geography and Environmental Sciences at Ulster University noted how the project ‘involves a combination of scholars from anthropological, archaeological and ethnographical backgrounds working to reach out to communities in new and diverse ways’.
Dr Wes Forsythe, co-Investigator
Caesar Bita said that the funding ‘has enabled networking with important stakeholders, opened opportunities for research by bringing on board institutions like Ulster University’ and is developing Alternative / Additional Livelihood pathways through collaboration for example with local women’s groups.
Dr Forsythe encouraged applications for the final round of project funding through the Rising from the Depths Network, ‘There are some great opportunities out there to engage in projects which deliver real impacts to communities on the ground. It’s very satisfying to see the changes and work with some really great and talented international partners’.
The final round of innovation funding will close in October 2019. For more information about the Rising from the Depths Network and the innovation projects, please visit: https://risingfromthedepths.com