Tech Initiative Aims To Keep Peace Via Text During Upcoming Kenya Elections

By Staff Published: August 6, 2017, 8:56 am
text(Photo: Eastern Mennonite University)

Two dozen women have arranged themselves in a circle under the shade of a cashew tree, some with infants in their arms and toddlers at their feet. The afternoon meeting in this small farming community near Mpeketoni is not out of the ordinary. What’s new is the handful of young people from the city who have come to tell the villagers about a text messaging-based phone app designed to prevent massacres.

“Do you know the meaning of rumors?” asks Margaret Wainaina in Kiswahili, but the women have yet to warm up to questions. “It’s when you don’t know if something is true or not,” she says, receiving steady head nods in response. “If you hear something, before you go tell your neighbor, check with us.”

From U.S. News. Story by Kira Zalan.

Wainaina is a project coordinator for Una Hakika, an initiative from the Canadian nonprofit The Sentinel Project, an anti-genocide effort. In the regional language Kiswahili, “Una hakika?” means “Are you sure?” and the goal is to squash disinformation that can lead to conflict, especially in the lead-up to Kenya’s hotly contested general election on August 8.

Ethnic violence following the 2007 general election left more than 1,000 Kenyans dead and more than half a million displaced. The following general election in 2013 was relatively calm, but ethnic and political vitriol found its way to social media platforms as hate speech. Experts are divided on whether the upcoming election will set off another crisis, but many believe the stakes are too high to ignore.

Read more at U.S. News.

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