During the first phase, which ran from January to May of this year, we mapped 37 case studies from Central & Eastern Europe, China, Latin America, South Asia, Southeast Asia and anglophone Sub-Saharan Africa. Between now and September, we’ll be nearly doubling that number and expanding our focus to include projects from the Middle East & North Africa, the former Soviet Union and francophone Africa.
Researchers from the Technology for Transparency Network present at the 2010 Global Voices Summit in Santiago, Chile. Photo courtesy of FabsY_ on Flickr.
I am psyched to be co-heading the project along with the formidable and talented Renata Avila. We’re thrilled to be working with an amazing team of researchers and advisors, including our new editorial advisor Hzel Feigenblatt. Hazel is the Media Projects Director at Global Integrity and will be working with us to make sure we interview the most innovative and exciting projects in this space.
On the eve of Sudan’s 2010 presidential elections, I interviewed Fareed Zein, who heads the citizen election monitoring project Sudan Vote Monitor. On Wednesday I checked in with Zein to get his thoughts on the project now that the elections have ended.
On the eve of Sudan's 2010 presidential elections, I interviewed Fareed Zein, who heads the citizen election monitoring project Sudan Vote Monitor, for the Technology for Transparency Project. Zein was hopeful that the project would bring greater transparency to the country's first democratic elections in more than two decades. “There was basically no idea what was going on on the ground” during previous political events, Zein said at the time. “What we're hoping to do is shine a light and give people access to events that are occurring at remote election centers.” On Wednesday I checked in with Zein to get his thoughts on the project now that the elections have ended.
If you listen to the podcast, you’ll hear faint sounds of Nairobi in the background: horns honking, people walking around. As Philip chatted candidly with me about the successes and struggles of encouraging greater transparency in Kenya’s national budget, I imagined him in his office, the door propped open, curtains blowing in the breeze.
Can you tell that living in New York has made me a bit desperate for sunshine and perhaps a return trip to Kampala?
Anyway, the noise makes for an interview that sounds less than studio-produced, but it also makes me happy. The sounds of life in east Africa, Philip’s laughter and his enthusiasm for his work all combined to create an awesome interview experience, and I highly recommend that you read the full case study and listen to the podcast.
On Friday I spoke with Fareed Zein, who heads the Ushahidi-based project Sudan Vote Monitor. The project lets citizens report problems with access, illegal campaigning, voter harassment and other aspects of the election.
Sudan’s first multiparty elections in over two decades began yesterday (New York Times, Al Jazeera) despite the fact that the majority of opposition parties are boycotting the entire process.
The election — already marred by a lack of actual ballots, long waits at polling places and mix-ups in the symbols printed on the ballots (many voters are illiterate, and symbols are used to represent different parties and candidates) — is widely seen as a prelude to the upcoming referendum on the independence of Southern Sudan.
On Friday I spoke with Fareed Zein, who heads the Ushahidi-based project Sudan Vote Monitor. The project lets citizens report problems with access, illegal campaigning, voter harassment and other aspects of the election. So far the site has received over 100 reports in both English and Arabic (volunteers at Meedan are helping with translation). Zein, who was busy working to get an SMS short code set up and doing some last-minute testing, spoke a little bit about his hopes for the impact of Sudan Vote Monitor:
I would say even if the election doesn’t take place we’ve already made history, and that’s not to say that that’s where we’ll stop, but this is a groundbreaking undertaking. We’ve already done a big service to just introduce the concept, introduce the possibility.
Other groups have specific activist motivations. They have a different tack. Ours is just getting access to information because the Sudanese people as well as the rest of the world have not had that in previous events. Others will take that to the next level and try to apply pressure for change.
As part of the Global Voices Technology for Transparency Network, my fellow researchers and I will be blogging about ICT all over the world. My first post, on a failed ICT for governance project in Sudan and the implications for tech efforts during the upcoming elections, went up today.
As part of the Global Voices Technology for Transparency Network, my fellow researchers and I will be blogging about ICT all over the world. My first post, on a failed ICT for governance project in Sudan and the implications for tech efforts during the upcoming elections, went up today:
In a December 2009 Global Voices article titled “ICT4D: Past mistakes, future wisdom,” Aparna Ray points out that many technology for development projects have “started with a bang and later died with a whimper.” According to a recent article in the Financial Times, such is the fate of a multimillion dollar World Bank plan to supply Juba, the capital of Southern Sudan, with computers and Internet access.
We’re hoping to get a discussion going over at Global Voices that not only highlights the tremendous power of the Internet and other digital tools, but also explores the challenges and difficulties of using these tools for political development and civic engagement. I welcome your comments here and on the original post.