Ushahidi

‘Ushahidi’ is an opensource software used in the ‘Citizen Led Monitoring – Improving Access to Basic Medications’ (Health Corruption) project that allows citizens to text reports of corruption into a centralized system using the frontline SMS. These reports can be viewed online in a visual map at www.health.ushahidi-cameroon.org.

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More information on the project can be seen under Other Projects.

The ‘Ushahidi’ system was introduced as an innovative element in the Health Corruption project, as a means of redefining indicators of success or failure by using beneficiaries to monitor a development project with a new IT tool, a fight against corruption that is led by citizens rather than the State or the international community. It empowers development beneficiaries to reclaim development as their right and uses IT to give communities a common voice by helping them discover the power of unity and collaboration. The projects’ activities can be monitored by the number of participants feeding the technological system. This quantified indicator is a testament for the effectiveness of the offline communication, the by-in from the beneficiary’s side, the effective participation and the technical streamline of the system.

This indicator, is not only offered in real time for day-by-day hand-on-pulse monitoring of the project, but is totally transparent, and open to the public.

The Ushahidi system works with the internet and mobile phones in order to receive text messages and internet postings sent from the general public and turn those messages into a real-time map with interactive reports which can be easily customized to meet user’s needs. This hand-on-pulse information can be seen by any computer or phone linked to the internet and can be broadcast on television.

The Ushahidi technology, combined with an offline communication strategy of posters in hospitals and use of mass media, engages citizens in fighting against corruption, mismanagement and ineffectiveness of a development program built for them as beneficiaries. The project informs them of their rights while offering them a tool to use their individual text message feedback into a coherent united picture monitoring service delivery of subsidized medication.

Ushahidi means “testimony”. It is a website that was first developed and experimented during the post elections violence in Kenya of 2007/2008, by a group of programmers in what they called crowdsourcing – allowing citizens to text reports into a centralized system that filters the ‘crowds’ voice into a reliable picture of reality. From that time, that team, named Ushahidi (Swahili for “testimony”), worked on different uses of their program and approach. The AC-Cameroon programmer learned how to use the platform and introduced it in Cameroon.
Besides the Health Corruption project, AC-Cameroon used the platform to monitor the Legislative and Municipal elections of 2013 in Cameroon.