TWB Leads Translation Effort in Citizen Information Sharing Initiative During and After Kenyan Elections

Translators without Borders Leads Translation Effort in Citizen Information Sharing Initiative During and After Kenyan Elections

(DANBURY, CT USA –28 February) Translators without Borders is leading the translation team in partnership with Ushahidi as part of the Uchaguzi Kenya 2013 deployment to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections in Kenya. The elections will be held 4 March; Translators without Borders will offer information sharing support 24/7 between 1 March and 7 March, as part of the digital humanitarian teams working on Uchaguzi.

How important is the translation effort during the Kenyan elections? The last election in 2007 sparked two months of unrest and more than 1,000 deaths. This time the goal is to make sure all voices are heard throughout the county before, during and immediately after the elections.

Mobile phones are ubiquitous in Kenya. The most common languages of engagement and network socializing are English and Swahili. However, other regional languages, including Luo, Nandi, Kipsigis, Kikuyu, Luhya, Kamba, Meru and Kisii are also often used. During and after the elections, the Translators without Borders team will translate texts from all of those languages, as well as open social media communications, and provide the information to the Uchaguzi crowd mapping team to help people have a voice wherever they are located in the country.

Uchaguzi’s aim is to help Kenya have a free, fair, peaceful and credible general election. Uchaguzi’s strategy for this is to increase transparency and accountability through active citizen participation in the electoral cycles. There are two tools the Uchaguzi team uses to implement this strategy, partnerships and the technology platform at where the partners coordinate and process the information received. This strategy is implemented through a broad network of civil society around Uchaguzi as the national citizen centered electoral observation platform that responds to citizen observations. Uchaguzi a partnership of Ushahidi, SODNET, CRECO and Hivos Foundation.

Translators without Borders is proud to work with the Uchaguzi partnership.

"We are founded on the principle that access to knowledge is paramount to humanitarian efforts around the world,” said Lori Thicke, founder of Translators without Borders. “Just as we did three years ago in Haiti, we will work closely with the humanitarian teams in Kenya to make sure all texts, tweets, emails and more that come in are understood so that information can be logged and used to ensure a peaceful process.” Translators without Borders was borne out of the Haiti earthquake crisis in 2010. Ushahidi was active in that crisis, making sure that text messages were distributed.

In Kenya, the Uchaguzi Translation Team will be headed by the group of new translators trained by Translators without Borders. Team leader and teacher, Paul Warambo, will head the effort, which will be based at iHub Nairobi. He will take the first of the around-the-clock shifts to ensure all messages are translated and included in the Uchaguzi platform and map. The goal is to make sure all voices are heard during and after the elections.

About Ushahidi

"Ushahidi", which means "testimony" in Swahili, was a website that was initially developed to map reports of violence in Kenya after the post-election fallout at the beginning of 2008. Since then, the name "Ushahidi" has come to represent the people behind the "Ushahidi Platform". Our roots are in the collaboration of Kenyan citizen journalists during a time of crisis. The original website was used to map incidents of violence and peace efforts throughout the country based on reports submitted via the web and mobile phones. This website had 45,000 users in Kenya, and was the catalyst for us realizing there was a need for a platform based on it, which could be used by others around the world.

Since early 2008 Ushahidi has grown from an ad hoc group of volunteers to a focused organization. The team is comprised of individuals with a wide span of experience ranging from human rights work to software development. Ushahidi also has built a strong team of volunteer developers primarily in Africa, but also Europe, South America and the U.S.

About Translators without Borders

Translators without Borders, a US-based 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, envisions a world where knowledge knows no barriers. The mission of Translators without Borders (initially founded in France in 1993 as Traducteurs sans Frontières) is to provide people access to vital knowledge in their language by connecting nonprofit organizations with our community of translators, building local language capacity and raising awareness about language barriers. Translators without Borders volunteers translate millions of words each year, focusing on three types of humanitarian translations: crisis translations needed urgently to inform people in crisis, translations that support an NGO’s operations, and translations that directly support people in need. The organization is building language capacity in East Africa through its first translator training center in Nairobi, Kenya, where trainees focus on healthcare content in Kiswahili and acquire the skills for a career in translation.

TWB Media Contact:
Rebecca Petras,