SMS in Kibera | Emergency Response v. Tapping Tacit Knowledge

by: April 16th, 2010 comments: 3

Yesterday, we had the pleasure of presenting Map Kibera at a networking meeting for organizations who share the common goal of ending gender based violence (GBV) in Kibera. The meeting was led by Population Services International (PSI) and attended by service providers (Kenyatta Hospital) and grassroots groups (Youth Development Forum, Kibera Shelter, Women’s Empowerment Link).

While there was strong consensus around mapping hot spots where young girls are particularly at risk (more on that soon), the most interesting discussion was around making  our SMS short code available to young women for reporting GBV (so far we are planning on using the shortcode for (i) community news reporting to Voice of Kibera; and (ii) SMS responder corps to report on health care and public safety issues). We’ve thought about the question of emergency response quite a bit, and see at least two distinct challenges:

– Emergency Responders- First do no harm. For an SMS responder service to be useful, first there needs to be responders. Folks at our meeting felt this was an ongoing challenge, and there is an effort to create a flow chart of who is responsible for what, where and when when it comes to GBV. When this flow chart is active and in place, it would be great to float the idea of an SMS short code.

– Norms- People know things in Kibera by talking to one another face to face. Reporting something as deeply personal as a sexual assault would require a dramatic change of normative behavior. Like a Ugandan farmer buddy of mine who would rather ride to town (at 3X cost) than use Google’s Farmer’s Friend to get crop growing tips, behavior change is difficult: the payoff has to be overwhelming, obvious and guaranteed.

My hunch, and I’d like to hear what health behavior change folks think, is that our SMS code is better for extracting tacit knowledge that would otherwise stay amongst a small number of people (i.e. there is a drug shortage at this clinic, or, many young girls are complaining about how dangerous the main road in gatwikera village is this week) than for direct emergency response.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the security category at Map Kibera.