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Kenya Selected for Listing in the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices

Thanks to a campaign by Kenyan farmers to improve nutritional knowledge. The listing aims to protect the intangible cultural heritage which makes people and communities distinguishable in terms of their history, nationalities, languages, ideology and values according to UNESCO. It’s taken fifteen years of collaboration between scientists and communities, including school children to earn the distinction. Back in 2007 researchers became aware of a decline in the country’s food diversity. They attributed it to a change in lifestyles and the growth of less nutritional convenience foods, but also they claimed colonialists encouraged locals to look down upon their traditional sources of food. Patrick Maundu, an ethnobotanist at National Museums of Kenya is one of the researcher involved in the campaign. He says during colonial times people grew to view traditional vegetables as inferior to other vegetables such as potato, cabbage, Swiss chard and kale. Over the years two local groups, the African leafy vegetables programme and the Foodways programme worked with UNESCO. Researchers looked at Kenya’s traditional foods and how they were prepared and eaten. They embarked on a mission to rigorously promote traditional vegetables which are also better able to withstand hotter climates.