|Screen Shot of Uchaguzi|
iHub Research recently released the highly anticipated report on the Uchaguzi deployment. Below are some of the highlights I picked from M&E report.
Such election watch projects should not be geared so much towards the technology itself, but rather should explore best practices for building viable partnerships around such technology platforms to amplify citizens’ voices in the electoral process in the long term – and thus contribute towards an improved democracy.
On Publicity & Outreach
The fragmented mode of publicity and outreach made it the weakest link in the deployment. Therewas no overall guiding strategy hence each partner was left to his or her own approach leaving room for duplication of efforts or missing some activities. There was only one documented strategy, around the community radio outreach.
On Citizen Experience
“Don’t risk missing the bigger story here: the simple act of residents recording actual ground level events themselves will have a long-term transformative impact on society – nowhere perhaps, as profoundly as in places like informal settlements.” - Erica Hagen, co-founder of Map Kibera & GroundTruth Initiative
Key Take Away
Incidentally the key recommendations for the Uchaguzi deployment were done three years ago. This is from the Uchaguzi: Case Study by Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and Knight Foundation written in 2010 after the first deployment of Uchaguzi in Kenya and the general election in Tanzania. Their recommendations were as follows;
• Plan early. One resounding challenge was aiming to achieve many objectives in such a short time period. Planning early, from 6-12 months prior to an election/referendum was strongly and widely recommended.
• Further build effective partnerships. Defining and agreeing on roles, responsibilities and expectations will help partners implement a successful project.
• Develop Strategies (e.g., campaign, feedback to action, security and privacy). Strategies should aim to 1) improve the filtering and verifying large volumes of information; 2) strengthen feedback loops and action by building an urgent response team, and; 3) provide any necessary security & privacy plans for the project and its users.
• Use simulation. Simulation exercises can help identify obstacles, test new technology, and improve workflows and communication approaches. These activities can better prepare people for an upcoming election/referendum day and provide a wealth of community building and learning opportunities.
• Paper maps. Uchaguzi-Tanzania participants recommend transforming the web-based map into paper maps. This would help local partners share the information with communities that are unable to access the map in its online format. Sharing maps in a newspaper immediately after the election would also broaden the reach of Uchaguzi efforts.
Uchaguzi was developed to avert crisis by acting as an early warning system or preventing the escalation of identified incidents to crisis proportions. This is a buildup of the Ushahidi deployment which was done in December 2007 and early 2008.
Uchaguzi enabled Kenyans to keep an eye on the vote and provided avenues through which they could report any incidences significant to the election, with any technology available to them thereby facilitating collaboration between wananchi (Swahili for citizens), election observers, humanitarian response agencies, civil society, community-based organizations, and law enforcement agencies to monitor elections.
Download the report here