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Mostly Thumbs Up for Uchaguzi Election Monitoring in Kenya

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, July 12 2013

Uchaguzi election monitoring map of the "POSITIVE EVENTS" that were reported

To ensure a fair and free, nonviolent election in Kenya earlier this year, the non-profit tech company Ushahidi launched an election monitoring platform called Uchaguzi. This month iHub Research released a report based on a six month long assessment of the use of Uchaguzi in Kenya this year. The review was performed in order to assess scalability, replicability and long term sustainability.

One notable achievement was that the Uchaguzi platform never went down during the deployment. Also encouraging were the high levels of participation and the expanding geographic area represented—reports came in from Mandera, a town in the north, for the first time just this year.

On the less successful side of things, the report found volunteers were insufficiently trained and outreach efforts were irregular. The program was not released in a timely manner, which reduced the quality of the results, and the data, once gathered, was not optimally managed.

As techPresident reported, the elections in Kenya were peaceful this year, perhaps in part because of the efforts of Ushahidi/Uchaguzi. One of the crucial things it did was connect the data with the relevant offices set up to deal with corruption or violence.

“Uchaguzi tries to collect as much data from as many people as possible," Duade Were told techPresident in April. "Once you establish the information as credible, then you escalate to the organization you know that’s responsible for that response. If it’s a law enforcement issue, we take it to the police, if it’s an electoral issue, we take it to the IEBC. If it’s something that requires first responders, we take it to a partner such as the Red Cross."

One weakness, the iHub report found, was that information Uchaguzi sent to those response partners was impossible to track afterwards.

In addition to Uchaguzi, there were other ICT-based election solutions at work this year in Kenya. Google launched the platform Kenya Elections Hub which consolidated news about election issues and iHub had a project called Umati that monitored hate speech, their effort to predict locations election violence could break out.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network and the UN Foundation for their generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.