Traditional Foodways

A participatory tool that captures the whole range of local foods of a community, how food is sourced in the landscape, prepared and consumed and the roles of the household and community members involved. The tool is one of four publications on the study of traditional foodways in Kenya produced between 2010 and 2012. 

Researchers can use the tool when the diversity of foodways and related knowledge about nature is at risk. While this research was initially conducted within the Eastern Pokot and Isukha communites of Kenya, it can be adapted to fit the needs of other communities around the world. It aims to: 

Identify and inventory traditional foodways by assisting pupils in these communities to document their foodways of everyday life and those associated with ritual, social practices and festive events. 

Encourage these communities to appreciate and transmit their traditional food practices. 

Prepare a practical manual on how to identify traditional foodways through fieldwork, which can be used in future studies in other communities in Kenya and beyond.  

Raise awareness about the dangers threatening the diversity of its traditional foodways and related knowledge about nature.  

The manual serves as a guide for the study of both traditional and non-traditional foodways worldwide. 


Practical guide to documenting traditional foodways  

Funding and implementation partners

Department of culture, the Kenya Ministry of State for National Heritage and Culture; National Museums of Kenya, UNESCO Nairobi. 

Results achieved

The research led to the creation of four publications detailing the unique traditional foodways. These publications: 

Created a variable tool to facilitate local perspectives on sustainable use and conservation. 

Documented information that provided a seasonal calendar of species and food crops. 

Became baseline information for monitoring agricultural biodiversity and producing food nutritional guidelines while contributing to Kenya National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan. 

Bioversity International is integrating the tool into on-going projects, in two other countries in Africa, in Ethiopia and Burkina Faso in different environments and culture.