#connectBurundi: how to build a participatory online map

Historically, maps help with getting a sense of direction. The Seruka centre of Bujumbura in Burundi chose crowdmapping, that is, the reliance on citizen collaboration in order to plan new action strategies for the prevention of GBV (gender-based violence). How is the mapping moving along?

By Serena Carta, Bujumbura

An initial introductory meeting with the Seruka managers was held, to clarify the features and possible uses of participatory online mapping tool. A working group from the Center – a dozen people including nurses, psychologists, doctors, communicators and educators – met to discuss what should be included in the map and what use to make of it.

The result of this brainstorm is shown here:



Why do we need a map?

First of all, the Seruka staff tried to identify the goals and aims. Broadly speaking, crowdmapping is a methodology that allows the collection of information from people scattered over the territory, which are then displayed on the online map. In a single look, you get the overview of the phenomenon at any given time. Examples of how the gathered data can be used are, reporting and advocacy activities (Harassmap, Egypt), intervention strategy planning (Crowdmapping Mirafiori Sud, Italy), emergency response (Healthmap Ebola), and mobilizing citizens and strengthen community (Community Safety Network, Georgia). The Seruka staff to focus on planning future activities. Therefore, the purpose behind the mapping is to create a new channel of communication able to facilitate, via SMS, the connection with the Centre and allow for critical information to be used to know how, where and from to focus new services on. At the moment, those in need of contact with the Seruka Center actually drop by or make toll-free calls. The staff hopes to encourage and facilitate the interaction with both new users or stakeholders.

What data shall we collect?

Complaints about GBV episodes, unpunished cases (most victims do not denounce the injurer in fear of retaliation), harassment in public place (schools and hospitals in particular), prostitution (a phenomenon on the raise due to emigration from the countryside).

Also requests for information (many just need more information, others are possible volunteers, students who write dissertations on the subject, youngsters coming to the Center inquiring about sexual education). Care shall be given to eliciting feedback on the quality of the service received.

Who do we engage?

Victims and witnesses alike (the community, neighbor, a family member). The service will then be ported nation wide, although awareness raising campaigns will be started in the three provinces in which Seruka is more active (Bujumbura Mairie, Cibitoke and Muramvya).

What technology do we use?

– First and second generation mobile phones for sending SMS or voice messages

– Smartphone for internet service

– Software for managing messages (Frontline SMS)

– Software for viewing an online map information (Ushahidi-Crowdmap)

– USB Modem

– Internet connection


1. Victim privacy and the networking of sensitive information could be used against the victims.

2. how many people will respond? Until we actually start the project, it will not be known, given Burundi low digitalization of Burundi (World Bank data tell us that 1.3% of Burundians uses the internet and 25% had a subscription to a mobile phone). Past experiences tell us that raising awareness of what is available to make their voices heard requires a consistent investment on the so-called e-capability.

3. how will the Seruka center respond to sharing information? In the long run, will the project be sustainable?

This consultancy stemmed from the “Projet pilote de decentralisation des services de prise en charge des violences sexuelles dans 3 provinces du Burundi” (ref. BU _ EU/2014/CNP/07) CCM NGO-initiated Collaborative Medical Committee – thanks to the support of the European Union.

Beth Kanter, how NGOs survive in a connected world

Beth Kanter is a non-profit consultant insofar as communication strategies and social networking go. Her work is also her mission. She travels around the world to help NGOs shape their structure around web 2.0 features, i.e., participation, transparency, and horizontal relationships. During the Internet Festival in Pisa, Kanter will deliver a keynote on networked nonprofits. In the meanwhile, we are sharing with you a summary of the interview featured in our e-book.

by Donata Columbro

If non-profits had a ‘ guru ‘ to represent them, it would be Beth Kanter. She has over four hundred thousand followers on Twitter, and was named “one of the most influential women in technology” (Fast Company Magazine, 2009) and “voice of innovation for social media” (Business Week). She is the muse invoked by communicators and social media managers when trying to implement innovations in communication strategies within NGOs. In addition to being the author of a very popular blog about “how nonprofits can use social media”, she is a researcher for the David Lucile Packard Foundation from 2009. She also was the 2010 Society of New Communications Research Fellow. Training is her passion. “I like to teach how to use online social media to bring about off-line change” she muses during an overseas skype call whose purpose was to understand how to become gurus in this industry.

A passion for change

“I started working with nonprofits more than 30 years ago,” says Beth, “I have done consulting since 1985. In the 90s, I realized the internet could be a crucial tool for my mission. I started my blog ten years ago and now am co-author of various books on the topic.” The best known among her books might very well be the one released in 2010 along with Allison H. Fine, another very well known consultant and nonprofit blogger. The title, “The Networked nonprofit. Connecting with social media to drive change“, is, in and of itself, a masterpiece of synthesis. Whoever wonders every day what to do of his Facebook page and Twitter account now knows how the answer is about getting your nonprofit connected via social media so to be able to drive change. Easy, right? “Nope! It is definitely not easy. Also, there are strengths and limitations to this approach” Kanter concedes “If at first nonprofits don’t see results they become skeptical, and unwilling to do some long-term investment. However, change does take a long time, and is a laborious process. ” Kanter calls it ‘ resistance to change ‘ and is very common, especially in organizations that have been a “fortress” for quite time. Organizations-fortress contrast the idea of “networked” nonprofit. They are hierarchical, and display information control and fear of interference from outside. It is easy to understand why the internet revolution put them in crisis. Nobody can survive the web if having an attitude of closure and “sooner or later they need to adapt if they want to be competitive ‘ Kanter warns. Because “funding is increasingly scarce” (nonprofits know!) “organizations will need to become good at finding individual support. The way to get this done is to be present where other people are, therefore not having a definite online presence on social networks today is a liability”.bethkanter

From fortress to networked

At the polar opposite of fortresses we have the networked non-profits.  They are collaborative and transparent organizations used at bottom-up decision-making, which gives a lot of leverage to their supporters. As a general rule, the fortresses were founded many years ago, their leadership has not been renewed, whereas networked nonprofits are young, innovative and open. The latter were started few years ago and have the striking advantage of a very lean structure, just like the web. An example of an NGO able to turn from fortress to networked is the American Red Cross. Severely criticized in the aftermath of Katrina, its leaders responded by hiring a social media expert to handle bad opinions of bloggers and increase transparency. By pulling an extra effort in listening to and monitoring twitter and blogs, the Red Cross has managed to reverse the situation and win $ 50K from the Western Union Foundation thanks to the likes of fans on facebook.

To read the whole interview download the ONG 2.0 Ebook for free

ICT for farming: videos and SMS to protect livestock in Senegal


Daral Technologies, an innovative project in Senegal, stems from the need to get an overall idea of livestock farming statistics and identify farmers and their livestock. There is no such initiative in this country.

By Elisabetta Demartis 


Who owns the animals? What kind of animals are they? Where are they located? If we could answer these questions, we could set up a digital identification process for both the owners and the livestock itself. This, in turn, will help to gain the much sought-after statistic in the sector, all the while solving the problem of thefts of animals. In 2007, for example, in Senegal the African horse sickness generated a two billion CFA franc damage because of the misinformation of farmers about how the illness could be prevented and treated.

How does it work?

The web and SMS application has three key functions.

According to Amadou Sow, Peul farmer and creator of the project, “the first step is to identify the breeder by means of a digitized system, collecting personal data (such as name, pictures, place of residence, telephone number and number of animals in stock).” “Upon registration” Amadou goes on, “a unique owner identification code is generated. It can then be tattooed on the animals so that they can be traced back to the owner in case of loss or theft”.

The media library is another key feature of this project, allowing for the prevention of livestock epidemics and the prompt spreading of preventive actions in rural areas. A mobile application allows the farmer to shoot videos of a sick animal and send it to the platform managed by experts and veterinarians from the farming Directorate. “After diagnosing the illness” the platform inventor quips “the experts send a message to the area referral center closer to where the video was sent from, detailing the recommended course of action to take. Close-by referral centers get both the original video and the one from an expert about how to deal with the illness.In this way, the awareness of the diagnosis spreads to other villages in the area, informing farmers about the existence of a particular disease.”

A public-private partnership

The project has entered into a partnership with the Senegalese Ministry of farming, which needs to collect data so to draw up reliable statistics for the sector. There are still no statistics on the industry, and it would be extremely useful to gather information about one of the most developed sectors of the country.

The third key feature of the project is the provision of an SMS service to the Ministry of animal husbandry for alerting farmers on topic such as theft of animals, vaccinations, diseases, etc. Due to the identification information collected for each breeder, the Ministry will gain access to their phone numbers and use the platform as a means of transmission of urgent messages and communications to wide scale. However, the revolutionary breeder did not stop here. He decided to go for more and has partnered with Microsoft for this project. Microsoft, on the other hand, provides computers, internet connectivity, and training to educate local project managers using Daral Technologies project village centers.

Centers are strategically set-up in locations where farmers meet once a week for animal markets (also known as Daral, in fact). In this way, farmers in the area will get in touch with the information managed by the centers thanks to airing videos in maxi screens for everybody to see.

In Senegal, and throughout Africa in general, there is an increasing number of projects and initiatives for the development of web and mobile applications helping farmers and fishermen to work at their best. Let us not forget that, according to Africa Progress Panel report, the continent could feed the growing populations inside its urban areas and address the global food demand. The so-called ICT4Agriculture, i.e. the set of technological innovations developed to facilitate access to information and communication between stakeholders working in the primary sector, is an increasingly effective tool for the improvement of the industry.
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#connectBurundi: let’s get it started!

I am travelling to Burundi for 34 days to apply  ICT to a project  raising awareness about gender violence and caring for its victims, along with the CCM (MedicalCollaboration Committee) NGO  from Turin. We are departing, amahoro to all of you.

[By Serena Carta, from ICT4dev]

They say that Burundi is an enchanted and tormented country. For one, the hospitality and kindness of its people find its roots on the shores of the great Lake Tanganyika where its green hills remind me of Monferrato’s and Switzerland’s  to others. On the other hand, the history of Burundi accounts for a close past of war and destruction (1993-2005 civil war) and a very turbulent present (President Pierre Nkurunziza ready to push his third, unconstitutional, mandate).

The “heart of Africa” is slightly less than 28 thousand km ² large. In Inkirundi (the local language), the word amahoro means peace and is used as a greeting. Forced to reckon with numbers and indices, Burundi  ranks among the poorest in the world, according to the global hunger Index, developed by the International Food Policy Research Institute. In fact, Burundi ranks first among countries with  alarming levels of hunger.

We will be travelling to Bujumbura, the country capital,  in a few hours. We – that is to say me and Fabrizio Furchì – are sent by the  ONG 2.0 to work together with folks from CCM and the Seruka Center for the incoming 34 days. Both CCM and the Seruka Center have worked in these setting for many years, mainly in the fields of awareness and information about gender-based violence in local communities, and  caring for the victims through the provision of health, legal and social services.

The goal of our journey is to support the Seruka staff in creating a website featuring stories and activities, and launching an online participatory mapping process (modeled after Harassmap), to stimulate the circulation of information on the phenomenon of violence.

We are armed with PCs, phones, camera, Moleskine, pens, articles, reports, and above all stories and suggestions that, in recent months, so many people shared with us. We want to say a big thank you to: Iside Baldini, who  led to the CCM research on gender-based violence in Burundi; Paolo Brunello, ICT4D expert and great connoisseur of the country;Viviana Brun and the CISV NGO staff that started its activities from Burundi back in 1973.

We are ready! Follow us on our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Vps. Search the #connectBurundi.




Advice realized within “Projet pilote de décentralisation des services de prise en charge des violences sexuelles dans 3 provinces du Burundi” (ref. BU _ UE /2014/ CNP/07) developed by ong CCM – Comitato Collaborazione Medica thanks to the aid of the European Union.