NAIROBI, KENYA, 8 August 2017. Translators without Borders Kenya (TWB-K) has formed a rapid response translation team of 11 TWB-trained translators to immediately translate citizen reports in 15 languages spoken in Kenya during and after today’s General Election. The team, which provided similar support during the peaceful elections in 2013, is part of the Ushahidi Uchaguzi citizen reporting platform.
Uchaguzi runs a 24-hour situation room to monitor activities throughout the country, encouraging participation from the entire electorate. It includes monitoring instances of electoral offences, violence and peace activities, as well as informing and engaging the electorate during and after the elections.
To ensure that Kenyans can report in their own language, the TWB-K team is responsible for translating messages direct from the public. Working from 15 languages, the team can translate messages from approximately 90 percent of this culturally rich and language diverse country. All the rapid response translation team members translate Swahili, which with English is the official language of Kenya; the majority of all messages coming in are in Swahili. Additionally, the team covers Sheng, Kikuyu, Luo, Luhya, Kamba, Meru, Kisii, Maa, Kalenjin, Embu, Mijikenda, Taita, Turkana and Samburu.
“TWB works with Ushahidi to make sure that everyone in Kenya can report incidents in their own language. People are most comfortable writing in their native language, especially about sensitive or confusing events. We make sure they can do that,” said Aimee Ansari, executive director of TWB. “Our work with Ushahidi increases transparency during the electoral process by giving voice to the many citizens in the electorate who speak languages other than English and Swahili.”
TWB Kenya has been operational since 2012, training more than 200 professional and community translators in the country. The rapid response translation team members were all trained by TWB. In addition to continuing their work with TWB, more than half of the team members also work as commercial translators, supporting their families with their own freelance translation work. A model that TWB is now expanding to other parts of the world, TWB Kenya translation training has built language capacity for humanitarian purposes while also ensuring work for those who are trained.
Uchaguzi runs through the end of the week. To report incidents, citizens can use the Uchaguzi Short Code (20166), Twitter (@uchaguzi) or Facebook (@Uchaguzi2017Kenya or directly through Facebook Messenger at https://uchaguzi.or.ke/views/create. Messages will be translated by TWB.
About Translators without Borders
Translators without Borders (TWB) envisions a world where knowledge knows no language barriers. The US-based non-profit provides people access to vital knowledge in their language by connecting non-profit organizations with a professional community of translators, building local language translation capacity, and raising awareness of language barriers. Originally founded in 1993 in France (as Traducteurs sans Frontières), TWB translates millions of words of life-saving and life-changing information a year. In 2013, TWB created the first-ever crisis response translation service, Words of Relief, which has responded to crises every year since.