Sahrawi People Find “A Refuge in the Stars”

Sahrawi astronomy

The Amanar 2.0 project is educating and inspiring the Sahrawi population using astronomy as well as recording their traditional astronomy knowledge.

Amanar 2.0 is a follow-up of the 2019 Amanar: Under the Same Sky project, both funded by the IAU OAD. It is an initiative to stimulate teachers, support schools, and provide inspiration through astronomy in the Sahrawi refugee camps of Tindouf, Algeria.

Previously, the project team visited the camps in 2019, conducting teacher training and astronomy activities at schools. Amanar works in tandem with the Vacation in Peace program, through which Sahrawi children visit the Canary Islands and stay with host families for a summer. Unfortunately, when the global pandemic struck, the vacation program was paused as well as any visits to the camps by the project team.

To continue engagement during this time of isolation, the team implemented a pilot online training program over Whatsapp called e-Amanar. Funded through the special OAD call for proposals for COVID-19, 23 teachers took part in this asynchronous training program from November 2020 to April 2021. The team purchased internet bundles for the teachers and delivered text and audio via Whatsapp. Plans are underway to evaluate the online training program to incorporate the lessons into the next edition.

Amanar 2.0 includes an ethnoastronomy study to record and disseminate the traditional astronomy knowledge of the Sahrawi population. Five Sahrawi researchers are conducting interviews with elders on their knowledge of the sky and culture related to the stars.

The team is currently developing several audio-visual products that will serve to promote the project and raise awareness about the Sahrawi refugees. Team members are also creating materials to return to be used in schools.