As you approach a major milestone in life someone usually asks, “What would you have done differently if you knew then what you know today?” Many times this is nothing more than just a curious exercise of dreaming sandwiched between reminiscing and planning.
As we celebrated Ushahidi’s 5th birthday we asked ourselves, what would we have done then if we knew what we know today? As one of the positive stories to emerge out of Kenya’s post election crisis in 2008 following the flawed general election of December 2007, what would we do if we had the chance to impact a Kenyan general election again? Luckily for us, this is not just an abstract exercise. With Kenya going to the polls on the 4th of March 2013 we have the opportunity to step up, an opportunity to stand and be counted, again.
This makes us very proud today to announce the official launch of the Uchaguzi Kenya 2013 partnership. Uchaguzi’s aim is to help Kenya have a free, fair, peaceful, and credible general election. Uchaguzi’s strategy for this is to contribute to stability in Kenya by increasing transparency and accountability through active citizen participation in the electoral cycles. This strategy is implemented through building a broad network of civil society around Uchaguzi as the national citizen centred electoral observation platform that responds to citizen observations. Uchaguzi, is a joint initiative between Ushahidi, Constitution & Reform Education Consortium (CRECO) and Hivos Foundation with support from Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
Uchaguzi is coordinated through the Uchaguzi platform which is built on and by Ushahidi. Through the Uchaguzi platform Kenyans are able to keep an eye on the vote and provides avenues through which they can report, with any technology available to them, any incidences significant to the election. For the purposes of Uchaguzi the electoral process is perceived as a permanent and recurrent cycle, in which every stage, and not just the Election Day, counts.
Uchaguzi facilitates unprecedented collaboration between wananchi (citizens), election observers, humanitarian response agencies, civil society, community based organisations, law enforcement agencies, digital humanitarians etc. to monitor elections in near-real time.
By amplifying the voices of ordinary citizens, Uchaguzi allows citizens to continue to play a positive role in elections before and after voting. Uchaguzi mobilises citizens to be directly involved in protecting their vote and electoral process. Together with our partners we have measures to verify information we receive, measures to escalate information that needs a response, and measures to monitor that response.
What would we have done differently if knew then what we know today?
We would have done Uchaguzi.
How to Report using Uchaguzi
The public will be able to send information to Uchaguzi numerous ways:
- Send a text message (SMS) on 3002 (short code) from within Kenya
- Twitter: follow @uchaguzi and use #uchaguzi hash tag,
- Post on Facebook page: facebook.com/UchaguziKenya2013,
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org,
- and use the Uchaguzi web form.
How to get involved
Uchaguzi is a very much a community project. We have local Kenyan-based working groups planning as well as online digital teams who will use the mapping software. Join us:
1. Join a local or digital working group
Local Kenyan-Based Working Groups will meet with notices via http://www.meetup.com/Ushahidi-Community for future meeting planning. The groups are Technology, Local outreach, Translation, Social media outreach, Analytics & research plus Umati Research.
Online digital response teams will use use the Uchaguzi platform and be divided up into a number of subgroups. Training will be provided. The Online Digital Response teams can be Kenya based or based globally. The Online sub-groups are: Media monitoring, Translation, SMS reports, Report Management, Verification, Geolocation, Mapping (basemap) and Technology.
2. Help Spread the word:
Leading up to the elections, we will be sharing short codes, photos, and your story. You can help spread the Uchaguzi word using the following channels:
- Twitter – @uchaguzi
- Instagram – #uchaguzi #kenya365
- Facebook – Uchaguzi Kenya 2013
- Google + Uchaguzi pages
This blog is part of a series of blog posts on the Uchaguzi Kenya 2013 deployment.