Mapping Election Coverage in Afghanistan

April 2, 2014

Internews and its long-standing partner Nai: Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan are taking a new, visual and interactive approach to elections monitoring and coverage. With the National Democratic Institute (NDI), a mapping project will aggregate election information on a Ushahidi map platform open to the public.

“Internews will facilitate elections coverage not just through the eyes of seasoned reporters, but also through the lens of expert election monitors and, most significantly, through the eyes of the Afghan population,” said Anahi Ayala Iacucci, Innovation Advisor for Internews.

Together, these three sources will provide information on wide range of elections issues, such as campaign developments, elections incidents, and violations of the law. All reports will be geo-located and categorized to allow users to identify trends and patterns.

Through Paywast, Afghanistan's largest SMS-based social network, Internews will send short real-time messages to the electoral commission, election monitors, CSOs, and media outlets throughout Election Day. These reports will in turn enable CSOs to track the elections in real time, get an immediate assessment of the quality of polling, and help increase confidence in credible elections. In addition, Nai will leverage its extensive mailing list to distribute hourly reports on the day of elections, as well as regular reports in the days and week to follow.

Throughout the entire process – which is likely to last for weeks after Election Day itself – Internews, NDI, and IFES will also reach out to political entities and advocacy groups to encourage them to utilize the data collected through the platform, particularly in the event of a run-off election later this year.  

How it Works

The map draws data from three distinct data streams:

  1. The Nai network of journalists and Nai Graduate Club members: more than 1000 journalists will collect and share data in real time from two weeks before the elections until the publication of the final election results.
  2. Non-partisan domestic election observer groups: Afghanistan National Participation Organization (ANPO), the Afghanistan Youth National and Social Organization (AYNSO), and the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA) are well known and reliable organizations that have been trained and accredited by NDI to report on election incidents during the elections.
  3. Afghan citizens: all Afghans are invited to submit reports to the platform via SMS, email, or social media platforms linked to the project (such as Twitter and Facebook).

This collaboration presents the opportunity to link citizen journalism, official elections monitoring, and traditional media coverage with a single platform that can provide a much more comprehensive picture of the election process than any of three could independently.  Internews’ radio partner Salam Watandar has already launched a publicity campaign in which it aims to educate the public about the platform’s function and abilities, submission guidelines, and the key elements of the elections process.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) funds the Strengthening Political Entities and Civil Society (SPECS) project through the National Democratic Institute.