Research Updates

Ushahidi Kenya Evaluation Updated Toolboxes Now Online

posted Oct 30, 2012, 11:45 AM by Melissa Tully

The toolboxes that we developed from the Ushahidi-Kenya evaluation are now available online and featured on the Ushahidi blog.

Ushahidi Kenya Evaluation Case Studies Now Online

posted Oct 25, 2012, 6:46 AM by Melissa Tully

The case studies from the Ushahidi-Kenya evaluation are now available online and featured on the Ushahidi blog.

Ushahidi-Kenya Evaluation Updates

posted Sep 20, 2011, 12:09 PM by Melissa Tully

The Ushahidi-Kenya evaluation is in its final stages. Last month, Jennifer Chan went to Nairobi to coordinate the .ke launch, an event designed to share our work with the Ushahidi-Kenya community and to get feedback on the toolboxes. Heather Leson, who recently joined Ushahidi as the director of community engagement, played an invaluable role in the last few months of the project, particularly managing the launch. For more on the final stages of the project, see the latest blog posts:

Kenya Ushahidi Evaluation Phase 2: Making Progress with Community Feedback!

posted Apr 21, 2011, 2:15 PM by Melissa Tully   [ updated Aug 20, 2011, 11:39 AM ]

Cross-posted from the Ushahidi blog.

[Post written with Jennifer Chan. This post is the third in a series of blog posts documenting a 9-month Ushahidi evaluation project in partnership with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative supported by the Knight Foundation.]

We have made great progress on the Ushahidi Kenya evaluation. Jennifer has been back at the iHub continuing to build the 3-part assessment and self-evaluation tool. The goal of this toolbox is to help interested organizations learn about the Ushahidi platform using a web based interactive tool, also with a low bandwidth and no bandwidth option as detailed in our earlier post.

In Nairobi, Jennifer met with organizations and individuals that have used the Ushahidi platform for election monitoring, peace campaigns, crisis response and other community programs.

She also met with new organizations interested in the toolbox. They will be testing Toolbox #1 and #2 for their projects and also providing recommendations on how to improve them.

Here are some examples of what they look like. Each toolbox will have different sections that will help you work through different stages of your project. Like this one from the Toolbox #2:

toolbox 2 screenshot

In Toolbox #1 you can select a type that best fits your program, and click on links to other Ushahidi instances to learn more about what people have done in the past or even doing right now.


You can also take a technology assessment. There will be rotating panels where you see the RED circle arrow that will show you more tips and examples.


Thank you everyone for sharing very helpful tips and examples and for testing out the tools! It’s still a work in-progress but we’re looking for more people to test the toolbox, especially if you have used Ushahidi in the past. Please let us know if you would like to help out by adding a comment to this post.

Wrapping up Phase 1 of the Ushahidi-Kenya Evaluation

posted Mar 22, 2011, 1:46 PM by Melissa Tully

Cross-posted from the Ushahidi blog.

[Post written with Jennifer Chan. This post is the second in a series of blog posts documenting a 9-month Ushahidi evaluation project in partnership with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative supported by the Knight Foundation.]

The Ushahidi-Kenya evaluation is off to a strong start. Since returning from Nairobi in January, 2011 we have worked on the self-evaluation and assessment tool for individuals and organizations interested in using Ushahidi. The purpose of the tool is to help interested organizations learn about the Ushahidi platform via a web-based learning tool and to provide access to community resources and to actively plan their Ushahidi project, through a project cycle. An off-line manual will also be available for those with limited bandwidth. The learning tool has three parts:

  1. The assessment module will help new users a) incorporate Ushahidi into project goals and objectives b) plan to collect information that will be mapped, c) identify partnerships and technology resources. This tool may include budget and project timeline templates.
  2. The implementation module will help users go through setting up the instance and further plan any media/publicity campaigns to help information collection and much more. It is meant to support organizations as they launch and maintain their Ushahidi project.
  3. The analysis & evaluation module will support users as they actively collect, map and make decisions with their Ushahidi instance. It will also provide tools with which to evaluate the project – helping organizations report their successes and challenges to donors, the user community and others.

The below image is an example of a screen shot of the Assessment Tool.  Organizations can learn about the instance types (icons on the left) and link to examples of how other organizations have used Ushahidi. We hope that this will help new and existing community users learn and make decision for their projects and programs.

self-assessment evaluation tool screenshot

Jennifer is off to Nairobi this week to share our progress and get feedback from the local Ushahidi community.

We are completing our first case study on Unsung Peace Heroes and Building Bridges. These two projects used Ushahidi to map peace related information. Unsung Peace Heroes was designed to recognize individuals who participated in peace efforts in the violent aftermath of the December 2007 Kenyan General Election. These heroes often risked their lives to help members of their community. Building Bridges is an extension of Unsung Peace Heroes. Building Bridges was designed to map peace initiatives throughout Kenya as well as recognize and reward Kenyans who participate in peace initiatives and promote conflict resolution.

These two projects offer interesting lessons for the greater Ushahidi community. Media Focus on Africa Foundation and Butterfly Works, the implementing organizations:

  • Relied on strong partnerships with local organizations.
  • Used multimedia strategies including radio, television, newspaper and online advertising; interpersonal communication at events throughout Kenya; mobile communication and social media.
  • Produced materials in English and Kiswahili.
  • Had clear goals and timelines.
  • Customized the Ushahidi platform to meet their needs. This was particularly true for Building Bridges as they integrated Ushahidi with Joomla, a free and open source content management system.

The full case study will be available for download later this year.

As we wrap up this phase, we will move onto phase two, which includes a case study of Uchaguzi in both Kenya and Tanzania and completion of the self-assessment tools. We look forward to continued feedback from the Ushahidi community.

Literature & Resources

posted Feb 21, 2011, 7:10 AM by Melissa Tully   [ updated Aug 20, 2011, 12:15 PM ]


Avgerou, C. (2008). Information systems in developing countries: A critical research review. Journal of Information Technology, 23, 133–144.

Burrell, J. & Toyama, K. (2009). What constitutes good ICTD research?
Information Technologies and International Development, 5(3), 82–94.

Conradie, D. P., Morris, C. & Jacobs, S. J. (2003). Using information and communication technologies (ICTs) for deep rural development in South Africa.
Communicatio 29(1), 199-217.

Heeks, R. (2002a). Information systems and developing countries: Failure, success, and local improvisations.
The Information Society, 18(2), 101–112.

Heeks, R. (2002b). e-Government in Africa: Promise and practice.
Information Polity, 7(2-3), 97–114.

Heeks, R. (2008). ICT4D 2.0: The next phase of applying ICT for international development.
IEEE Computer Society, 41(6), 26–33.

Heeks, R. (2010). Do information and communication technologies (ICTs) contribute to development?
Journal of international development, 22, 625–640.

Khan, F. & Ghadially, R. (2010). Empowerment through ICT education, access and use: A gender analysis of Muslim youth in India.
Journal of International Development, 22. 659–673.

Kleine, D. (2010). ICT4What?—Using the choice framework to operationalise the capability approach to development.
Journal of International Development, 22. 674­–629.

Roman, R. (2003). Diffusion of innovations as a theoretical framework for telecentres.
Information Technologies and International Development, 1(2), 53–66.

Walsham, G. & Sahay, S. (2006). Research on information systems in developing countries: Current landscape and future prospects.
Information Technology for Development, 12(1), 7–24.

White, R. (2004). Is ‘empowerment’ the answer?: Current theory and research on development communication. Gazette: The International Journal for Communication Studies, 66(1), 7-24.


Gazette: The International Journal for Communication Studies

Information Technology for Development

Information Technologies & International Development

International Journal of Communication

Journal of Information Technology

Journal of international development

The Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries


Hyden, G., Leslie, M., & Ogundimu, F. F. (Eds.) (2003). Media and democracy in Africa. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

Schramm, W. (1964).
Mass media and national development: The role of information in developing countries. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Servaes, J. (1999).
Communication for development: One world, multiple cultures. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Sen, A. (2000).
Development as freedom. New York: Anchor Books.

Thioune, R. M. (2003).
Questioning ICTs and development in Africa. Information and communication technologies for development in Africa: Opportunities and challenges for community development. Volume 1. Ottowa: IDRC Books.

Unwin, T. (Ed.)(2009).
ICT4D: Information and communication technology for development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Alsop. R, & Heinsohn, N. (2005). Measuring empowerment in practice—Structuring analysis and framing Indicators. World Bank: Washington DC.

Heeks, R. (2009). The ICT4D manifesto: Where next for ICTs and international development?
Manchester Centre for Development Informatics Working Paper 42, 1–33.

UW J-School Grad Student Conference

posted Feb 5, 2011, 5:56 PM by Melissa Tully

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication is holding its annual graduate student conference on April 8, 2011. They just sent out the official call for papers. Submissions are due February 28th. The past few conferences have been a great success with participants from across the university. It's also a time for prospective graduate students to visit the department and meet faculty and current graduate students. The call for papers is below.
Communication Crossroads 2011: A Multidisciplinary Graduate Student Conference
Sponsored by the UW School of Journalism & Mass Communication

We invite original research on communication and media from a variety of perspectives from departments across the UW campus.
Paper Submission Guidelines:
  • Submit a 500-word abstract in electronic or hard copy. Preliminary research, proposals, and thesis and dissertation chapters are welcome. Do not submit full papers. Abstracts should give a clear sense of the scope of the research and the method of inquiry.
  • Papers must be authored by graduate students. Student-led papers with faculty coauthors are acceptable.
  • Include a cover sheet indicating your name, department, phone number, & e-mail address. Abstracts and papers will be judged by blind review and should contain no indication of authorship on any page other than the cover sheet.
  • Submit electronic copies to jschoolgradconf [at] or submit printed abstracts and cover sheets to the “Grad Conference” mailbox in 5115 Vilas Hall.
Abstract Submission Deadline: Sunday, February 28th, 2011 by 5 p.m.

Authors of accepted abstracts will be informed by March 7th.

Full papers (not exceeding 30 pages including figures, charts, & appendices) are due by April 1st.

Conference Date: Friday, April 8th, 2011, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (lunch and dinner served)

Questions: Email jschoolgradconf [at]

Ushahidi-Kenya Evaluation

posted Jan 26, 2011, 1:23 PM by Melissa Tully

During the first two weeks of January, I traveled to Kenya as part of a team working on a 9-month evaluation of Ushahidi-Kenya projects. Part of the evaluation is a series of blog posts documenting our progress. The first post is now up on the Ushahidi blog and summarizes the goals for the evaluation, highlighting our plans for phase one.

A quick trip to Nairobi

posted Jan 18, 2011, 9:20 AM by Melissa Tully

I just returned from a 10-day trip to Nairobi with my colleague, Jennifer Chan from the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. We're part of a team working on an evaluation of Ushahidi-Kenya projects to better understand how organizations have implemented and used the Ushahidi platform to improve their programming and organizational goals. The evaluation has multiple phases and parts including a series of blog posts chronicling the evaluation--the first of which will be posted in the coming week; case studies of projects that have used the Ushahidi platform including Unsung Peace Heroes and Building Bridges, and Uchaguzi, the Ushahidi platform for election monitoring; and the most exciting part (I think), a set of tools for organizations seeking to use Ushahidi to self-evaluate and prepare to implement the platform. We're in the very early stages of development, but based on discussions with folks in Kenya who have used Ushahidi, we think we're developing some very useful stuff. I'm very excited!

In addition to starting phase 1 of this project, I got a chance to visit friends and colleagues in Nairobi and to see how things have changed in the past 6 months. It's amazing to see how much can happen in such a short time. For one, the iHub is up and running in full force. It was so cool to see how far the place has come and how productive it is for the local tech community.

I was also so pleased to see how the the mobile market has grown and the true competition in the market. In the 7 months that I lived in Kenya, I never used my mobile phone to call the U.S. because it was 25-30 Kenya shillings a minute, but now it's 3 KSH a minute! This drop in cost is almost unbelievable. I was using Safaricom, but the other networks have similar deals. Airtel (formerly Zain) was the first to lower the cost for international calling and thankfully Safaricom followed suit. I love following the "mobile price wars" and benefiting from this competition.

Lastly, I couldn't believe all the construction in Nairobi. New apartment complexes and office buildings are popping up all over the Kilimani area. It's great to see this investment, but the sad part is a lot of smaller businesses, both formal and informal, are being leveled to make room for these new buildings. It'll be interesting to see what moves into these places and how Nairobi continues to change and grow over the next year.

Ushahidi Volunteers

posted Jan 5, 2011, 12:09 PM by Melissa Tully   [ updated Jan 5, 2011, 12:22 PM ]

Anyone who followed my posts about my dissertation research in Kenya knows that I spent a lot of time working with Ushahidi and how valuable that experience was to me and my research. I've always enjoyed working with this diverse and talented group including the Ushahidi core team and volunteers so I just want to say thanks for the mention in the recent post highlighting the work of the volunteer community.

I'm excited to see what 2011 holds and look forward to being part of it. I know the team and volunteers will continue to do amazing things, and I'm particularly excited to see developments in Kenya. I just returned to Nairobi (more on that later), and can already see how much has happened in the past six months. Keep it up!

Welcoming folks to the fist Ushahidi 101 event in May 2010,
one of the things I worked on as a volunteer in Kenya.

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