Universities for Ushahidi

The U4U training program brings young people from conflict zones around the world to train them in the use of crowdsourced mapping tools like Ushahidi as well as in the skills of conflict management, helping them address community needs in-country, train others, and join a growing community of global crisis mappers and technology-enabled peacebuilders.

The Ushahidi platform is a simple information collection and mapping tool that is often combined with crowdsourcing to document crisis information using the Web, SMS, Facebook, Blogs, Twitter and smart-phone apps. The platform was initially used to crowdsource the documentation of human rights abuses during Kenya’s 2007 post-election violence. Since then, Ushahidi has been used to document violent conflict in Gaza, Libya, Syria, and Egypt; elections in the Sudan; human trafficking worldwide and disaster response in Haiti — to name just a few applications. Recognizing the transformational potential of these tools in conflict zones, USIP created the “Universities for Ushahidi” (U4U) training program in partnership with Ushahidi in 2011 to empower communities and peacebuilders in conflict with these tools. 

In June 2011, the week-long pilot U4U program brought together 11 young people from conflict  zones around the world – including Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Egypt, Kenya, Haiti, and elsewhere – training them in the use of crowdsourced mapping tools like Ushahidi as well as in the skills of conflict management. Equipped with these skills, trainees will use mapping technologies to address community needs in-country as well as to train others, joining a growing community of global crisis mappers and technology-enabled peacebuilders. 

The program was the first of its kind and the result of significant collaboration between USIP’s Center of Innovation: Science, Technology & Peacebuilding, the Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding, USIP’s Country Teams, and various technology-based NGOs including Ushahidi, Open Street Maps, and Digital Democracy. 

The training program ended with a public event entitled “From Crisis to Community: Mapping as a Peacebulding Tool” that featured speakers from the U.S. Department of State, Ushahidi, and three U4U trainees.

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