Democracy, Transparency and Accountability-On the Ground in Nairobi

[slideshow]The 2007-8 post election violence in Kenya, highlighted a need for political change in Kenya and the new constitution is a step in the direction needed, but the nation cannot rest on its laurel.  On the ground, people are working hard to stimulate social change from the Grassroots up!

Pamoja FM, aired live from Kibera, one of Nairobi’s slums came to the fore during the 2007-08 election violence by attempting to act as a calming influence on the people of Kibera.  Visiting them this week, we saw how they are still working relentlessly to give the silenced a chance to air their views. Hear about the power of community radio here from Michael the production manager, Adam Hussen its founder and Gideon on transparency.

Close by, Map Kibera Trust is working diligently to equip young people from Kibera with skills enabling them to map their area and report on issues relevant to the lives of themselves and their communites.  Hear more about their work here.

FrontlineSMS Radio is working alongside Pamoja FM and Internews, who I was also fortunate enough to visit, whose aim is to empower local media worldwide, ensuring that citizens in developing countries are informed and given a voice.  Hear audio posts from their Country Director Ida Jooste and New Media Developer Mark Irungu, who I met in Nairobi.

Youth Agenda, who I visited last Friday, were empowering Youth throughout Kenya to become politically active and in this way fight corruption and stimulate social change.  To hear more about their work, listen to Eustace Knuya, who manages their SMS interface here.

The tools being developed in Kenya to enable citizens to demand better services and hold government to account are more advanced than those I’m yet to come across in the UK. Mzalendo, Huduma (under development) and The Budget Tracking Tool are just some innovative examples and I had a pleasure to meet their designers and developers, whose strategies for stimulating social change are both insightful and innovative.

Ushahidi, is probably known to many of you, a Kenyan innovation which has gained critical acclaim and worldwide use, through interactive mapping and visualisation of real-time data using crowd sourcing.  It has been used to report on events as varied as incidents of violence following the 2007 elections in Kenya, crime in Atlanta and crisis response and recovery efforts in Haiti.  Hear more about the power of tech to stimulate social change from its founder Erik Hersman here.

Change can happen from the ground up, if people gather together and utilise the power of both old and new technology to gather forces and act to make a difference.