Sisi Ni Amani: Progress to Date

Sisi ni Amani Kenya (SNA-K) has some exciting progress to report on the implementation of its Indigo Trust grant. The Indigo Trust grant supported the development of new features in the PeaceTXT SMS platform to enable SNA-K to better target and analyse its messaging.

One feature that the Indigo Trust grant supported was a data upload feature to enable contacts to be imported into the system with all of their information intact. The data upload feature was completed and enabled SNA-K to upload over 20,000 subscribers (21,082 to be exact!) who had previously subscribed on paper. SNA-K will now be able to reach these subscribers with updates about community events, civic education, and with violence prevention messages as needed. SNA-K has already sent a greeting message and plans to send an initial peace promotion message letting subscribers know about an upcoming local peace event. The organisation will also be uploading an additional 10,000 additional contacts in the coming weeks. The ability to send messages to multiple groups, which is another completed Indigo Trust-supported feature, has also been completed, and was crucial for the sending of messages and the prevention of duplication of messages across groups.

Searching with filters and criteria is also now in place – SNA-K can now search the system for only contacts with certain demographic information (i.e. contacts from a specific location with a certain language preference or gender). From these searches, the organization is able to quickly and easily create groups with demographic specifications to send targeted messages.

SNA-K was able to use these features to enable voters in a new constituency called Kajiado North to sign up for the system in the lead-up to a local by-election replacing the previous Member of Parliament who passed away.  The organisation worked with Voter Educators who were working with the IEBC (Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission), the government body responsible for conducting election. The Voter Educators were trained on how to use the system and signed up several voters. SNA-K then created groups of voters in the specific area and were able to target them with civic education and get-out-the-vote messaging. The goal was to test the system at a small scale during an election and to get feedback from the Voter Educators on the same so that SNA-K could improve the system and messaging for the elections.

Approximately 160 community members signed up to receive messages, and after the election SNA-K held a focus group with the Voter Educators. Their feedback was overwhelmingly positive: they had excellent suggestions for improvement of the subscription process, and all said that the system was very helpful. Many individuals noted that they had received positive feedback from community members who had subscribed. They said that it would be important for the system to be scaled up for the general election because they thought it was a very good way to get people information quickly, and an effective way to remind communities about voting procedures as they vote in order to prevent confusion and misunderstandings.

All of this progress is very promising, and as voter registration begins, SNA-K will collaborate again with the IEBC, which has a very short timeline to register all voters. SNA-K will use the SMS system to help ensure a peaceful process with high levels of participation by educating communities on how to register to vote and encouraging them to register. This will be another important test and learning opportunity to understand how the SMS platform and messaging content are received by communities at crucial points in the election cycle.

Thanks to Rachel Brown and the SNA-K team for providing this article.