Quick Look used Ushahidi to monitor electoral problems during the Kyrgyz Republic’s constitutional referendum in June 2010.

Beginning Date: 
June 16, 2010
Annual Budget 2007: 
Annual Budget 2008: 
Annual Budget 2009: 
Annual Budget 2010: 
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Context is a website that used Ushahidi to monitor electoral problems during the Kyrgyz Republic’s constitutional referendum in June 2010, celebrated following massive ethnic conflict (the “Osh riots”) in the southern part of the country that ended up overthrowing the government.

The website worked with electoral observers located at polling stations throughout the country, who’d make reports and review those submitted by regular citizens, which would be marked as verified if approved by the observers. received over 400 reports during the referendum, but it concluded that there was no reason to think the referendum was unfair. initially hoped to use Ushahidi to monitor the riots, but by the time the platform was ready the riots had ended. Its organizers hope to also use it in the future to monitor civic issues.


Tell me a little about your project.: 

I’m Altynbek Ismailov and I’m one of the founders of The history of the project starts with the Ushahidi presentation at in April 2009. The presentation was about the usage of this framework in countries in crisis. When the Osh riots began in June 2010, we decided to launch Ushahidi in order to monitor the situation in the country. When the platform was ready, however, the “Osh riots” had ended, so we decided to use it to monitor the referendum.

The threat of interference with this referendum was very high, and it was important to bring true and reliable information to the citizens. We feared that some politicians might say the referendum had failed, and we needed a system to present independent information [about incorrect ballots, voter intimidation, etc]. We collected reports from the public and attempted to verify them using observers located at polling stations throughout the country. If the observers, who were accredited by local NGOs, approved the report, we marked it as verified. We carefully analyzed incoming data before we approved reports.

What's your vision for the project?: 

The initial aim of the project was to provide an alternative source of information and interpretation of the constitutional referendum. Our general mission is to make Kyrgyz people feel comfortable using the Internet. People should know about such projects. Not only wars or crises can be monitored, but also elections and other less dramatic things or events.

Another idea of the project is to engage people by using the platform. For example, we used the ChipIn system to collect donations, and pretty quickly we collected about 500 dollars. We want to show that not only large organizations can finance projects such as ours, but common people too. [Note: this project is currently supported largely by the National Democratic Institute.]

Nowadays, not everyone in Kyrgyzstan has Internet access, and especially broadband Internet access. We believe we’ll find sponsors and volunteers that will support us and help us be able to build an online system to monitor government spending. We also want to make political parties responsible for what they promise before the elections.

How does your work currently turn into offline change? : 

The most important result of our project was that our independent source of information (the observers) did not find reason to think the referendum was not free or not fair. In other words, it brought new citizen information and delivered it to the international community. I make this conclusion on analysis of the traffic statistics — most of the visitors were from the US.

Another result of our work was that government institutions became interested in this technology and asked to install Ushahidi for other uses. During Referendum Day, every media tool which could be a tool of stabilization was important to government institutions. We had a meeting with the head of the presidential administration, who offered his help in verifying reports via local government staff in different regions. He also informed different government networks that they can submit reports as well. Now that we’re focusing on elections instead of the referendum, however, the government is not showing significant interest in Ushahidi.

What are the biggest obstacles to your success?: 

The ultimate goal of isn’t only about election monitoring. Our main aim, and our hope for the future, is to provide civic control. Our main obstacles are limited time and limited resources. All our participants have to work, have their own families. And the grants organizations are not offering sufficient resources, if we speak of long-term functioning. One of the solutions could be a commercial usage (e.g. monitoring the efficiency of a business project) of Ushahidi-inspired systems that we could offer, considering the experience we already have.

Another thing is to educate young people who could maintain Ushahidi-based systems. The more people know about the system and how to use it, the better.

Why do people use your tool?: 

Our core team consists of four persons. For the October parliamentary election we’ll have about 106 contributors — election observers all over the country who will send us reports. They will also send election data. These reports will be analyzed by several experts. We hope that international election observers will also contribute to the project. On the day of the election, there will also be about 20 moderators.

People used our tool because they wanted to be heard. Over 400 reports were published on the site. Our government has certain difficulties with listening to the people. A lot of people who would like to participate in public life were humiliated by the government. And our portal was open to receiving reports from everyone who wanted to say something. I’m very proud that our project helped the average citizen to be heard. It’s just a matter of proper communication.

What is your civic role?: 

At first, the new Kyrgyz government was supporting us. They were using all possible resources to help us by connecting us with local government branches. But when it came to the parliamentary election, the government became more closed and isolated. We’ve been publishing reports we receive that have to do with all parties, not favoring any parties in particular. Right now we’re receiving signals that the government is not very happy with what we’re doing.

Has your work been replicated?: 

There are lots of implementations of Ushahidi all around the world.

Is your work a replication of another project?: 

Yes, it’s a replication of Ushahidi.

What transparency/accountability organizations do you work with?: 

We cooperate with the National Democratic Institute. They’re our main supporters. We hope to receive help from the Open Society Institute.



The people of our tool, and also send electoral data. These reports will be analyzed by experts. We hope that international election observers also contribute to the project. On Election Day, there will be about 20 moderators. wanted to be heard. More than 400 reports have been published on the site. Our government has some difficulties with listening to people. Many people who want to participate in public life have been humiliated by the government. And our portal was opened to receive reports of all those who wanted to say something.

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