NEWS

USHAHIDI: TRANSFORMING LIVES GLOBALLY THROUGH TECHNOLOGY

Ushahidi also known as “testimony,” in Swahili, is a global not-for-profit technology company that develops integrated tools and services for people to generate solutions and mobilize communities to create positive change.

Founded in 2008 to monitor and map post-election violence in Kenya, Ushahidi collects, manages, and visualizes data by SMS, email, web, social platforms, and more. This is aimed at strengthening communities and improving lives, empowering users to rapidly and purposefully gather, analyze, respond, and act on data and information.

Its open-source platform, currently available in more than 160 countries and over 40 languages has since its formation been used by millions of people to raise voices, inform decisions, stop suffering, and influence change through activities such as tracking cases of violence, giving voice to victims of sexual-related violence and domestic abuse, natural disasters or the spreading of infections, to building networks of mutual aid and available jobs.

According to Juliana Rotich, a co-founder and former Executive Director, “Ushahidi has been replicated in many different contexts, from geolocation of victims after the Haitian earthquakes to the coordination of demonstrations during the Arab Spring, and reporting of violence committed in Syria”. She also credits its success to the fact that is easy to use and requires no special competencies. It allows verification of testimonies, is accessible in remote areas with low connectivity, is available to various people through a simple mobile phone, and is economically supported through a mix of international foundations while running as a business.

Ushahidi and the SDGs

As a social justice entity that fosters citizen engagement for the greater good, Ushahidi is making extensive strides in the realization of the 2030 Agenda. Some of the social, political and public challenges that it has helped address include:

  • Relief efforts following earthquakes in Haiti and Nepal 
  • Supporting Covid-19 response and recovery worldwide
  • Ensuring fair elections in the US, Kenya and Nigeria
  • Monitoring and reporting corruption in Indonesia
  • Helping women address sexual violence in Egypt

All this is made possible through open data which can help achieve the SDGs by providing critical information on natural resources, government operations, public services, and population demographics.

The World Bank reports that open data has the potential to be a universal resource to help achieve and measure the SDGs and platforms like Ushahidi are making their mark in accelerating progress and helping to make the SDGs possible. 

Two of Ushahidi’s projects – Uchaguzi and the Tana River Project – have been nominated for the 2024 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) prizes, indicating the relevance of the platform and the key role it continues to play in facilitating innovations and digital transformations that advance the realization of the SDGs.