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Year published: 2023
Categories: Book Chapter
URL Link: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-031-19594-5_10

Author / Authors:

  • Janet Marsden
  • Angela Oduor Lungati



Ushahidi is a crowdsourced information sharing platform developed following the December 2007 general election in Kenya. Election protests and rioting broke out when the government claimed victory in the disputed election and shut down the national media to prevent information sharing and free speech. Because of the government ban on media, in early January 2008 Ory Okolloh, a freelance journalist in Nairobi asked people to report incidents of violence they were experiencing on her personal blog (weblog). She was quickly overwhelmed by the numbers of emails and messages she received. Focusing on the urgent need to share the information she was receiving, in early January she posted another request on her blog asking for help to develop a website where people could post anonymously online or via mobile phone text messages. Several technically astute, mainly Kenyan volunteers responded and within a day, the Ushahidi (Swahili for ‘testimony’) domain was registered, and the website went live in less than a week. More than 250 people began using the site immediately to share information and within a few weeks Ushahidi became one of the main sources of news about the unrest. Participants eventually grew to 45,000 users, including radio stations. The ability to post directly to the site using mobile phone text messaging meant it was available via the most widely accessible type of communications technology at that time in Kenya. The project was funded with donations, with many volunteer developers. Later the platform was adapted for crisis mapping during disease outbreaks in other countries in Africa and natural disasters such as the Haiti earthquake in 2010.

Emergency response,
Emergency communication,
Crisis mapping,


  • Book Chapter