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By the way, the next practicum is in August.  We'd love to have Amplify as a guest/participant!

Hi Chioma,
Two of the primary team members are located in Lilongwe.  Genscher M'bwabwa is the Director of Commerce in Lilongwe and Jessica Kampanje-Phiri is a lecturer at the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources.  In the immediate future, those two will be the local stewards, though I imagine it will be important to find local stewards/representatives from the markets.

Yes, our plan is to have different cohorts every year and to build upon what the students from the previous year have done. We just made the decision last week to stay in the same markets this year, and to engage participants to move even further towards solutions that work for them.  We have this idea that the action research that we're doing will proceed in a step-wise process, and engage several cohorts of students over several years in the same markets.

I think the first thing we need to work on is building relationships that provide a good foundation for effecting change, and doing that with practices that build trust and transparency.  I think that Amplify's support would be important in terms of helping us to find ways to build inclusive design processes...ones that better connect citizens with government.  The other thing is that we're working in an environment of scarce resources, and we need to make the best of what we've got.  At this point, we think that collective action in markets can improve things, but we could use some guidance on how to proceed.  Thirdly, there is definitely a need to address the lack of resources, and need to find a sustainable funding mechanism.  Amplify's growing network of problem solvers and creative people is something we want to tap into.

We see this as a long-term project, but one that can potentially offer lessons for other municipalities struggling with similar situations.  We think that decentralized food distribution networks are valuable in terms of promoting food resiliencies, but that they face a lot of challenges as cities grow and as they face more unpredictable food environments due to climate change.  Given Amplify's orientation towards 'democratic creativeness' we think our project and your aims fit well together!

I'll speak to the participatory research component.  

There are many, many researchers who go into Lilongwe's markets to collect data for their own purposes.  According to their own accounts, people working in markets are tired of constantly being asked things, but never seeing change.  In this case, we are actually working with the municipality to use the insights and suggestions from people in markets to make meaningful changes and to develop meaningful ICTs.  

In relation to laws, many of the laws on the books reflect a colonial perspective and do not respond to conditions as they are.  We are applying the latest thinking from urban planning in Africa ( to food exchange and provisioning, focusing primarily on how it occurs in markets, which the municipality has some purview over.  Without doing better planning in ways the meaningfully address conditions in African cities, cities are headed towards increasing vulnerability and reduced resilience, both as they grow and as they become increasingly affected by climate change.  

To be frank, the most fundamental requirement for resilience is creating processes that enable responsiveness, aka 'adaptation.'  In a city, the 'socio-ecology' and it's ability to produce conditions that enable well-being, is contingent on human relationships and practices.  Without strong and deliberative processes that can address needs and shape outcomes (i.e. city conditions), many technologies or isolated innovations will not be able to get a foothold.  It is for this reason we are intent on producing better relationship between city residents using the food system as both an entry point and a locus of improvement.  The students have a critical role to play in our approach for multiple reasons, both short-term and long-term.