Event Mapping in Eastern DR Congo – Voix des Kivus

From Ushahidi.com:“A crowd-seeding system in Eastern Congo that uses cell phones to obtain high-quality, verifiable, and real-time information about events that take place in hard-to-reach areas. This pilot project is led by Peter van der Windt and Macartan Humphreys from the Center for the Study of Development Strategies at Columbia University.”

The project
Atrocities in hard-to-reach areas – for example many areas in Eastern Congo – often go unnoticed because of the lack of accessibility, both due to poor infrastructure and to the simple fact that fighting makes it too dangerous to get close. The inability of international organizations and humanitarian NGOs to collect information under these conditions hampers the provision of assistance in a timely and effective manner.

There is fast growing recognition of the role that technology can play in addressing these problems. But a real challenge faced by many approaches is the difficulty of getting data that is not just real time, but representative. Columbia University (with support from USAID) began the Voix des Kivus pilot project in summer 2009 to assess the technical feasibility of a decentralized, representative, SMS-based information system in the region and to assess the utility of the program to participating communities and potential users.

Presently (beginning 2011) the program is operating in a random sample of 18 villages from four territories of the war-torn province of South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo.



  • People: Macartan Humphreys and Peter van der Windt (both PI)
  • Partners: None 
  • Funding: USAID
  • Location: Sud Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo

Photo 1 shows the introduction of VdK in a Congolese village. In each village we distribute phones to three people: the village chief, the leader of the women’s association, and a third democratically elected person. Photo 2 shows a “hidden-bucket” election. Photo 3 shows how isolated many villages in the Congo are. Photo 3 shows something common. Often one has to leave the 4×4 or motorbike behind and walk for hours (sometimes days) to reach a village. Source: Own camera.