Online Tools to Fight Corruption: Two Case Studies from Morocco and Kenya
Tarik Nesh-Nash at his workshop session on Online Tools.

Tarik Nesh-Nash at his workshop session on Online Tools. Photo: Parker Mah

Mamdawrinch.com is an interactive website aiming to encourage citizen participation in the fight against corruption in Morocco. It enables Moroccans to report acts of corruption, file complaints, and share information anonymously and in the language of their choosing – Moroccan dialect, Arabic, or French.

Tarik Nesh-Nash, board member of Transparency Morocco and CEO of Software Centre, a software startup, was instrumental in setting up this platform, the first of its kind in the country. The information received from users can be in the form of video, pictures, or written accounts including details about where and in which sector the corrupt act occurred. This information is then published on the website, on a map, and through social media channels.

This process is less about pointing fingers and more about creating an indirect tool of pressure, says Nesh-Nash. “We have no way to verify the authenticity of the user, as well as the information there…to avoid defamation cases, we anonymize it. We remove all the names, which can create problems both for the person who sent it as well as the corrupt person.”

The tool is also supported by an integrated Anti-corruption Legal Advocacy Center (ALAC) that allows people with strong cases to request legal assistance to potentially take the issue to court.

But the project still faces big challenges – a disparity in the level of technical knowledge, a lack of reliable internet penetration in some areas, and low rates of online engagement. But Nesh-Nash is confident that the site will deal with some of these problems with a dash of human-powered support. “The challenge today is not the technology – you need a team of committed people, objective and trusted by the community to do this work of validation.”

“The aim of this project is not to make an accusation but rather to give an examples of corruption in certain sectors,” he continues. “We want to open the debate online and see how we can solve this.”

http://www.mamdawrinch.com

 

Nathan Wangusi

Nathan Wangusi. Photo: Parker Mah

Kuhonga.com, based in Nairobi, is an online corruption mapping tool built on the Ushahidi platform. The site allows Kenyans to report incidences of corruption in real time through SMS, a mobile app, email, social media, or through the website itself. The site focuses on both low- and high-level incidences of corruption in government, law enforcement, immigration and customs, educational institutions as well as businesses.

Nathan Wangusi, the executive director and founder, echoes Nesh-Nash’s earlier comments regarding the danger of seeing such tools as technological panaceas. “One of the lessons we have learned is that you cannot leave out the people behind the technology. Online tools are great, but if they’re not being used then it’s an exercise in futility. We must be able to build the human network that will start to empower people as well as interrupt those structures that permit corruption,” he says.

Much of the corruption observed in Kenya, according to Wangusi, is actually structural – almost a cultural practice. “In that sense it has become the status quo by which people obtain services,” he explains. The tool is a pathway towards, ultimately, changing the behaviour of people, and altering the cultural mindset in their perception of corruption – and that can only be driven by other people.

“We’ve come up with the idea of Transparency Champions – the most important component of our network. These are individuals who are known in the community, who are proven leaders, who go out and speak to people about corruption, investigate incidences, or report observances of corruption,” says Wangusi.

This project is hosted by the Africa Center for Open Governance (AfriCOG) whose partnership with Kuhonga aims to render Kenyans more vigilant about public life and further engage them in the management of politics and the economy.

http://kuhonga.com/

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