Report by Uchaguzi Analysis and Research Team
After the Supreme Court of Kenya ruled to nullify the re-election of Uhuru Kenyatta and a repeat election was called for, we had to immediately begin preparing to launch a second phase of Uchaguzi. The first round of Uchaguzi had enabled us to learn and understand better how the platform should work, which meant that the Ushahidi development team was able to make improvement to the platform such as implementing a data management view that made it easier for digital response teams to process incoming information.
On the 25th of October, Ushahidi, Infonet and CRECO opened up the situation room and provided a co-working space for our partners, volunteers and Ushahidi staff members to participate in election monitoring through the Uchaguzi platform. A lot of effort and human resource was required to sift through all the reports that came into the platform and this involved structuring, geolocation, publishing, verification, escalation, geolocation, translation and sorting out of media posts.
Structuring involved categorizing posts into specific surveys/themes for example reports concerning counting and results, polling station and administration issues, positive reports or security issues. Once reports had been structured, it was important to identify the location where the report had come from, to verify that the report was credible and to then publish it onto the Uchaguzi platform. Some posts required translation whereas other posts needed to be escalated for further action for instance, some incidences of violence required police action.
We received a total of 6875 reports from around the world. Of these posts, 6296 posts were archived either because they were commentary pieces or because they did not fit into classification of data relevant to Uchaguzi. Uchaguzi volunteers managed to structure 535 posts, that were then geolocated and published onto the Uchaguzi platform. A total of 95 posts were verified by our partners, CRECO, who called our observers on the ground, or used messages that we received directly from observers on the ground.
The table below specifies the verification methods that were followed to ensure that our reports were credible.
Table 1: Survey name against action taken to verify
There was a sum of 29 posts that needed escalation including reports of violence, business being on set on fire and youth mobilizing with weapons in Kawangware. In Bungoma, we received reports of police violence and there are three confirmed fatalities whereas in Migori and Kisumu there were reports on citizens mobilizing towards violence, riots and road barricades, all of which needed to be escalated.
We received a total of 55 reports that related to counting and results, 33 from SMS, 18 from twitter and 4 from web sources including newspaper articles. The counting and results reports included information on voter turnout for instance the 80% turnout from all 12 Kiambu counties and reports on provisional results. We also received information on counting and results issues including missing ballot papers, vote mismatches and the numbers of uncast votes from different polling stations.
A high number of polling station and administration issues were reported, 84 in total, 4 from Web sources, 49 from direct SMS and 31 from Twitter.
A total of 104 security reports were published onto the platform, 30 from web sources including the media, 50 from Twitter and 24 from SMS. 26 posts relating to voting issues were reported, 18 through direct SMS, 6 from Twitter and 2 from other web sources. We only received a total of 2 staffing issues and 3 reports on political rallies political rallies. There were a total of 11 media posts (newspaper posts), 9 from Twitter and 2 directly from the web. In the other post category, we had a total of 76 posts that came in.
Figure 1: Number of reports received per survey
Unlike the August 8th election, we received no reports discussing Form 34A. However, similar to the previous election, we had a lot of positive reports coming in from citizens. A total of 163 positive reports were recorded including citizens reporting peace in Imenti West, areas of Bomet County, Meru County and in Bomet. Some of the highlights of positivity that we saw through the media, included the incident of a police officer sharing a banana with a street boy in Mathare. The Uchaguzi platform was also used to publicly advertise and to mobilise citizens to assist each other. We saw advertisements for a medical volunteer to assist and for citizens to donate blood in Kisumu posted on the platform. A majority of people also used the platform to advocate for peace and togetherness during the period of political uncertainty.
Uchaguzi proved to be even more important to Kenyan voters in the October round, proportionally. In the August election 12,900 messages of all types came from an actual voter population of 15.59 million, or roughly .08 of a percent of voters sent in an event of some type. In October, the 6875 messages received of all types came from a voting population of more than 7 M as indicated by IEBC, so a tenth of a percent of voters sent in an event. Therefore, utilization rates were actually up by this measure. So the complexity of the October situation did not deter the individual citizen from continuing to contribute to transparency, safety, and justice. During the two elections combined, the Uchaguzi team facilitated hundreds of followups, escalations, emergency services, and fact-checkers to contribute to its mission as providing independent electronic evaluation and assistance.
Kevin McMahon, a volunteer on the Analysis and Research team had this to say,
“The mission is important and does help get volunteers in other countries up out of bed at odd hours. The Ushahidi platform is fun and intellectually challenging so that aspect adds academic interest. Helping to bring peace and fairness is certainly spiritually fulfilling. But what really gives this effort its special character is the Ushahidi team and all the other volunteers. Yup, it is the individual personalities. Seeing them achieve such productivity with grace and patience is really amazing. Whether it is Brendan's geolocation and humorous complaints, Angela always getting the answer to everything for everybody, Hazel's energy, or the accessibility and goodwill of really smart software resources in Latin America or the U.S. who rock at all hours, the team is just really special. The next time though, I am threatening to come to Nairobi, to experience the buzz first hand. I am not much to look at, but I make great coffee, can fix laptops & old trucks, and cook a mean breakfast for dozens!”
We are proud of our team( especially all our volunteers from across the globe who worked tirelessly during both elections to ensure data was flowing into the platform) and the Kenyan people who have added so much to the aura of citizen oversight in difficult circumstances.