Friday, July 15, 2011

Kipp and Philip of the Social Development Network in east Africa

I've just ended an exciting three week long Africa trip to Kenya, Tanzania and Ghana. There are so many exciting people and organizations to talk about! One of my very first meetings in Nairobi, Kenya, was with John Kipchumbah (Kipp) and Philip Thigo of the Innovation Program of the Social Development Network.

I dropped in on them because Kipp had been trained on our Martus human rights software years ago and had been helping human rights groups in the region with using Martus. However, I was thrilled with the incredible range of activities I heard about during our dinner together.

Kipp explained that they wanted to take a broad approach to improving human rights, and so had expanded into other areas in the social sector. They felt these new initiatives would all contribute to a better human rights environment in the region.

One of the first areas was a budget tracking tools for Kenya, to make it easier for people to learn about budgeted amounts for their areas. Huduma makes it easy for people to complain about social services delivery (like, I went to the clinic but they don't have the drug I need).

Uchaguzi was a crowd-sourcing tool SODNET worked together with Ushahidi to deliver around the recent Kenyan referendum. They are also planning on tracking next year's elections in Kenya. Given the election violence of a few years ago, this is a major area of work in Kenya to help prevent a re-occurrence. They've also done a similar project in Tanzania and Uganda.

Our discussion of these projects and new ideas was exciting: the barriers to implementing new ideas with technology keep getting smaller. Even better, I think these technology innovations are best done in close touch with the community. I was impressed with the ambition, scope and execution of these projects, and their potential to advance social justice and human rights in east Africa!

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