The outstanding volunteer team at Tufts University has played an instrumental role in Ushahidi’s response to Haiti. They trained hundreds of volunteers and set up Situation Rooms in Washington DC, Geneva, London and Portland. Together, they mapped over 3,000 urgent and actionable reports on Ushahidi-Haiti from a multitude of sources including text messages from Haiti. They also coordinated directly with responders on the ground and helped save hundreds of lives.
We often get the question: why Tufts? The short answer is that I happen to be completing my PhD at The Fletcher School. So when the earthquake struck Haiti, I was able to reach out to friends and colleagues on campus for their help. But little did I know just how much of an incredible movement was about to be launched. Our fellow volunteers at Tufts and at other Situation Rooms around the world have consistently gone above and beyond.
This is why Ushahidi is now formally partnering with Ushahidi-Haiti @ Tufts who will take the lead on Ushahidi-Haiti from here-on. I will of course remain directly connected to the team as Ushahidi’s Advisor to Ushahidi-Haiti @ Tufts. In addition, we have a full-time Ushahidi Field Representative in Haiti, my colleague Jaroslav Valuch, to directly support the team at Tufts University. The Situation Rooms in Geneva and London will also remain active.
The purpose of the Tufts initiative is to work closely with the Haitian Diaspora, local civil society groups and the Government of Haiti. Why? Because the latter have expressed a strong interest in using Ushahidi-Haiti to help them inform the post-disaster reconstruction and development process. They want to give Haitians the ability to hold the development community accountable for the way their country is rebuilt. The Tufts team will work directly with and for these stakeholders so that Ushahidi-Haiti can become a fully Haitian owned and managed project.
This model is one that we at Ushahidi are very interested in replicating in the future. The largest concentration of Ushahidi-trained volunteers in the world are now in Boston. They have the ability to lead future deployments and train volunteers in many other universities to do the same. They are also taking the lead in partnering with a Diaspora, and this too could be an ideal model for future deployments. In short, the team at Tufts is continuing to break new ground for Ushahidi every day.
Ushahidi Tip of the Day: Follow the Ushahidi-Haiti @ Tufts team closely as they take the field of Crisis Mapping to a whole new level.