Kenya: Grant awarded to SODNET’s Infonet programme

Philip Thigo. (Photo: Indigo Trust)

The Indigo Trust, a foundation based in London that funds technology-driven projects to bring about social change in African countries, awarded the Social Development Network (SODNET, focal point of Social Watch in Kenya) a grant of £30,750 that acknowledges its consistent work to improve the lives of ordinary citizens through its Infonet programme.

SODNET, a Kenyan NGO dedicated to fight the causes and consequences of poverty and disempowerment, has provided a proactive platform for local communities to engage them in knowledge production, exchanging of ideas, promotion of alternative practices and the voicing of concerns from the grassroots.

The grant will allow the organization to go towards the salary costs of expanding the reach and improving the efficiency of its Infonet programme, which aims to weave technology, open data and citizen empowerment into a potent product for social change.

"Our job is to find tools that enhance the quality of life of citizens. The ‘voice of the commons’ acts as a strong catalyst for change, especially in an environment where the state, operating as a monopoly provider or regulator of services, lacks channels to listen," said Philip Thigo, of SODNET, at a Indigo Trust’s Power of Information conference held in December.

“We need to think about people first, not technology first,” he added. “We should strike a balance between supporting innovators (inspiration) while at the same time strengthening process (sustainability).”

SODNET’s Infonet programme supports four different projects. One of them, named Ugatuzi, is a budget tracking tool designed by the organization to enable citizens’ engagement in public finance management.

It provides constituency-level information on projects funded by devolved funds: project timelines, description, project’s status and multi-year disbursement schedules. It allows organized groups in communities to input comments and identify incidences of corruption and malpractice.

The second project, named Huduma, enables citizens to amplify their voices in the demand for services directly to authorities and service providers. It’s a web and mobile-based platform that aggregates and channels concerns and observations of citizens (via SMS, voice, video, etc) directly to authorities for redress.

The third, Uchaguzi, enables citizens to report any issues surrounding elections and related service delivery concerns directly to election officials, the authorities and the media. Uchaguzi aims to increase electoral transparency and thereby strengthen the democratic process.

And the fourth, Nanionline, is a platform and portal for social movements that allows them to connect and interact with one another.

The Indigo Trust focuses mainly on innovation, transparency and citizen empowerment. It also considers innovative projects, which utilize information technologies to support development outcomes in any sector, including health, education, human rights and agriculture.

This foundation makes grants to African projects or programmes, or to organizations which operate at least partly in African countries.

More information
Philip Thigo at Indigo’s Power of Information conference:
Kenya: Citizens to participate in budget process:
Zambian citizens observed polls via Twitter, SMS and Internet:
Technology transforms election monitoring in Kenya:

Indigo Trust:
Plan International USA Blog: