As some of you noted I left Kenya briefly in the summer to work from Sida HQ in Stockholm as I was awaiting my new posting. Stockholm did show itself from its sunny side, and learning about the work, processes and strategies at HQ was certainly a good experience. Even better, it was fun to meet up with friends without the usual time pressure I normally experience once I’m back home.
Anyway, the (European) summer has passed and I have – finally – gotten my new posting. As of about a month ago I joined Ushahidi. “Ushahidi”, which means “testimony” in Swahili, mapped reports of violence in Kenya after the post-election fallout at the beginning of 2008. This platform is now used in 150+ countries worldwide for all sorts of issues mapping. It’s a non-profit tech company that specializes in developing free and open source software for information collection, visualization and interactive mapping. Ushahidi builds tools for democratizing information, increasing transparency and lowering the barriers for individuals to share their stories.
For those unaware, quite a few readers here I’d guess, Ushahidi is very well known in the ICT4D space worldwide. The people behind it also started the famous iHub and are Ted speakers.
I joined to work on Making All Voices Count. Funded by, amongst others, Sida. The aim of Making All Voices Count is a substantial push towards effective democratic governance through increased transparency and accountability. Twelve countries across Africa and Asia will be the “playground”. Our Ushahidi team will head the innovation part, focusing mostly on mobile or web solutions. We will award grants to organisations or individuals, place “fellows” within the governments, have mentors to increase the effectiveness of the initiative and so on.
Suffice to say it will be much hard work, but it’s fast looking as the most exciting project I have worked with.
With USAID as another donor the call for proposals was officially launched yesterday by President Obama. So here we go!