Civil society technology used to monitor elections in Africa
Published on Mon, 2010-11-01 11:16
Two of Social Watch's focal points in Africa: SODNET, from Kenya and Sahringon from Tanzania have come together to share techology tools to monitor elections in Tanzania that took place 31st October 2010. SODNET's experience in monitoring the kenyan referendum on August 4, 2010 with notable results was key to develop the software platform named UCHAGUZI TZ.
UCHAGUZI ("decision" in Swahili) is a web and mobile-based technology software that enables collaboration between election observers and citizens to monitor elections in near-real time. The technology-based platform facilitates citizens to amplify their electoral concerns such as missing names in the voting register, vote buying, misconduct by election officials, violence and other electoral offences or positive aspects, good practices and commendable efforts by security personnel or representatives of the electoral body such as peace activities. The platform is being managed by Tanzania civil society in Dar es Salaam and over fifty volunteers in Nairobi at the Innovation Hub (iHUB).
The software platform was first used in Kenya during the August 4, 2010 referendum with notable results. UCHAGUZI works to extend the common practice of election observation by seeking to engage citizens or crowds in election monitoring as a valuable source of information for election observers to verify and amplify information to the respective electoral authorities and making visible their responses. UCHAGUZI increases transparency and accountability in the electoral process by making these interactions open to public scrutiny.
The technology is based on Ushahidi ("witness" in Swahili), a crowd sourcing platform that is able to accept SMS text messages from the "crowd" or any person with a cell phone or computer to record events happening at any location instantly. People are also able to call in reports by voice or via email and Twitter. Since the first deployment of Ushahidi in Kenya, the platform has been used as a crisis map after the 2010 earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, as an election monitoring service in places like India, Burundi, Mexico and Afghanistan, and by major news services such as Al Jazeera and the Washington Post.
The platform has built off the successes of Uchaguzi Kenya to include 2,000 monitors in Tanzania, 30,000 trusted sources plus messages from the crowd. Uchaguzi TZ´s shortcode is 15540, and the developers and volunteers working in the tem started receiving and mapping messages a week to the election. "So far we have received close to 370 reports that mostly include names missing in the voter registry and a tensive mood in some parts of the country", Philip Thigo, Programme Associate, SODNET. For more information and reports, please visit: www.uchaguzi.or.tz
UCHAGUZI is a collaborative initiative between TACCEO (Tanzania Civil Society Consortium on Election Observation) Tanzania; HIVOS, Netherlands; Haki Elimu, Tanzania; Jamii Forums, Tanzania; TWAWEZA, CRECO (Constitution and Reform Education Consortium), Kenya in association with USHAHIDI and SODNET (Social Development Network), Kenya as technology & strategy partners.
For more information on Uchaguzi and further insight on election monitoring using technology or interviews on October 31, 2010, Please contact Eric Hersman (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Philip Thigo (email@example.com)
See daily status reports of UCHAGUZI Tanzania: