Sarah Jane Durr
Food for Us Researcher
Rhodes University
Environmental Learning and Research Centre

This paper was prepared for the

Environmental Education Association of Southern Africa (EEASA) 2018 conference in Zambia. 


In South Africa, one third of the food produced for consumption is wasted, whilst 26% of all household’s experience hunger. Excessive food surplus in countries such as South Africa, that experience high levels of food insecurity is a topic of national and global concern. Food surplus occurs in many contexts, including communities of emerging small-scale farmers, many of which aren’t able to find markets for their produce resulting in wastage. In a time of mobile technology expansion, the wide infiltration of internet enabled smartphones into diverse communities has increased dramatically with the uptake of mobile applications being a key area of interest amongst environmental educators. The Food for Us project, in which this study is located, aims to develop a mobile application that meets such needs. The application is being trialled by 40 voluntary participants in the Western and Eastern Cape, linking producers with potential alternative consumers to reduce potential food waste. The study, which this paper draws from, is investigating how the initial use and development of the Food for Us mobile application has enabled social learning through particular application affordances across the Raymond Mhlaba municipality landscape of practice, involving selected producers and consumers. This paper will explore the preliminary findings that have emerged after initial analysis of the data that has been collected. A series of interviews, surveys, WhatsApp data, application use meta-data and ongoing observations were conducted over the length of the Food for Us project. Analysis of initial data has indicated that personal and collective value has emerged strongly amongst the application users in the Raymond Mhlaba municipality. Social learning has started to emerge in the form of inter-generational and inter-disciplinary boundary crossing which has been enabled by the application and its supporting platforms which have been used as a mediating tool to connect people. This paper is part of a Masters thesis and hopes to inform the understanding around the use of mobile application to enable social learning within the context of the South African small scale farming green economy value chain.

Read the full paper here Sarah Jane Durr – EEASA Paper.