Uchaguzi, an Elections initiative developed in 2008 in partnership between three organizations: InfoNET, Constitution and Reform Education Consortium (CRECO), and Ushahidi to ensure that citizens participated in the electoral process and had access to electoral services.
The Role of Uchaguzi initiative was to ensure that Citizens’ participation in the Electoral process and access to Electoral Services through providing EMBs and citizens with technology tools, platforms a nd spaces to engage in improving responsiveness to Elections service delivery challenges. The action, aimed at creating an environment for EMBs and citizens to effectively engage and ensure responsiveness to citizens’ concerns through participation indicators i.e. information, complaints, comments and feedback. The outcomes were an audible citizen’s voice, greater state transparency, accountability and enhanced democratization processes through increased dialogue with authorities.
Uchaguzi platform was first pre-tested during the Constitutional Referendum in Kenya in 2010 to monitor the tools and methods that were involved in the whole process. It was then used was seen to monitor the electoral processes in Tanzania(2010), Uganda(2011) Kenya(2013). Uchaguzi also participated in the US elections and also to monitor sexual harassment in Ethiopia, Earthquake in Haiti.
The Uchaguzi Ecosystem brought together Observers from CRECO 700 + monitors from ELOG located at various polling stations around the country that perform the important task of Verification. ELOG is keen on observing and monitoring electoral processes through impartial, integral and inclusive lenses culminating with an objective and independent report. ELOG was formally established in April 2010. ELOG’s premier observation assignment was the 2010 referendum where it deployed 10,000 general observers countywide and 702 Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) observers in sampled polling stations across the country. ELOG put together a two year plan to monitor and observe the March 2013 election. The plan broadly involved deployment of observers in the pre-election period as well as election-day observers.
The Uchaguzi Ecosystem also brought the Action Response Teams through InfoNET that comprised of the EMBs (Electoral Management Bodies) to respond and action all verified reports. The Action Response Team also worked with a team of Analysts to give a state of the Nation Report throughout the Electoral period and hosted an Uchaguzi Summit: an interactive online summit that offered an opportunity for questions from the public to be responded to by key players in the election process ahead of the 8th August 2017 Elections.
The platform managed incidences of electoral offences, violence, peace initiatives and informed Kenyans on how people voted during the General elections. Uchaguzi monitored elections throughout the campaign period, during the Election Day and post-election. Between the 5th and 9th of August, Uchaguzi operated a 24-hour situation room.
The Election Situation Room at InfoNET, was set up to provide action to relevant authorities (EMBS). Some of these bodies included IEBC, The Police, GVRC, ELOG,, verified and timely information on the elections around Kenya and ensure that all verified reported incidents were attended to appropriately. Uchaguzi utilized crowd-sourcing tools and SMS platforms for messaging and response.
Feedback and conversations from the technology channels were contextualized within the framework of performance against agreed/discussed targets. The data and information was aggregated into simplified reports or scorecards to visualize government responses or inaction and the steps taken to remedy the issues raised. These finding were widely publicized through the Presidency information channels.
The objective of this initiative was realized through strengthening citizen’s engagement and EMBs responsiveness in the improvement of Electorals service delivery by leveraging on simple media and technology based tools such mobile and web tools for evidence based engagement between EMBs, interest groups and Citizens.