Indigenous people still face marginalization, extreme poverty, forced relocation and other human rights violations. Their way of life and often their very survival is threatened, according to the United Nations. To me, this means that there are over three hundred seventy million people who could benefit from Ushahidi’s web based reporting tool.
One major reason for the overwhelming threat against the rights of indigenous people is lack of transparency of information.This is the very element that Ushahidi’s reporting provides. Another reason is due to an inefficient media which fails to report on such issues. Ushahidi helps fill the gap that mainstream media tip toes around by placing information in a visually organized manner.
Multinational corporations have been accused of exploiting native communities for their knowledge of land and/or survival. This biopiracy not only allows corporations to profit off stolen information, but often projects to maximize these very profits threaten the community’s survival. And this violation of rights is global.
From Australia to the America indigenous societies have been using the internet, mobile phones, satellite radio, all forms of technology, to preserve their existence and the existence of future generations. Ushahidi’s crowd sourcing would allow for violations of the right of indigenous people to be known early on. These early warning would prevent mass exoduses such as the one currently ongoing massacre in South America.
Since fall, Colombian FARC rebels have massacred over fifty indigenous people, some as young as three. In the last ten years over two hundred Awa people have been murdered, according to regional organizations. Ushahidi’s web based reporting could help provide early intervention in high risk situations that could have possibly prevented the four massacres against the Awa that we know about.
The UN says the violence that has been allowed to occur has affected the living conditions and land of the Awa to such an extreme that their very existence is in danger. I believe that a record of violence, violations, and movement (for nomadic tribes) would prevent repetitive massacres from occurring within a short period of time to any indigenous tribe. The collection of data collected through Ushahidi would allow communities within a given nation, or internationally (depending on the data) to identify specific threats. Identifying these threats would allow organizations, governments, and socially responsible corporations to develop strategies.
Through these clearly lined strategies, the model of social corporate responsibility could be seen as a more accessible model to a wider variety of corporations. However without the knowledge of any violations, and without the information to develop clear strategies….the goal of positive change seems farther away than it has to be. Ushahidi could help protect indigenous people and all it would take is a mobile phone.
Where media has failed to report on the issues facing the indigenous communities spanning over seventy countries, data visually organized via Ushahidi could provide a bridge.Clearly identifiable references for events would allow for this topic to shift from one of special interest to those aware, allowing the societal issues to take its rightful place as part of mainstream development and policy discourse. Ushahidi could make this a reality.