By Joshua Stern - Executive Director
Thank you for your continuing support of our program to empower community-driven development with online and mobile technology in East Africa.
The last quarter has been exciting and important for Envaya as we build into a strong 2012.
First, we surpassed 1000 civil society organizations that have signed up for and are using Envaya. This is a landmark number, and is also crucial in getting the word out about Envaya, and helping us work toward our most important goal of strengthening the ability of those organizations in accomplishing their missions, and in working with each other. We’ve begun an exciting new collaboration with Twaweza, which is an ongoing citizen initiative in Tanzania and East Africa designed to foster large-scale “bottom-up” change. Through this partnership, we will be improving specific functions of Envaya's monitoring and reporting system, with Twaweza and its partner organizations soon using the system. We’re excited to be officially be co-hosting Startup World Tanzania (www.startupworld.com) along with the Commission for Science and Technology. Startup World is a business idea competition, and the regional winners receive a trip to Silicon Valley where they will present their plan and vision to a panel of experts, and one company will be crowned best startup on the planet. The idea is to promote digital entrepreneurship in emerging countries around the planet, and working with the Commission on this project is another facet of Envaya’s goal of promoting computer technology and usage in Africa. Envaya has begun discussions about richer collaboration with Tanzanian government, looking for ways to use the Envaya platform to increase Government and citizen communication – we hope to start in Bagamoyo district, and build out from there.
Finally, we have some new faces in our Tanzania office: www.envaya.org/envaya/team. Nothing we do can work without the tireless efforts of our local teams.
Thank you for supporting our program to empower community-driven development with online and mobile technology in East Africa. Our initial goal of raising $4000 to become a partner of Global Giving has been reached thanks to the generosity of over 80 donors. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed. The first couple months of 2012 have been incredibly busy for Envaya. Radhina and Envaya's East African team have been working hard on community outreach, working to spread Envaya into new regions and working with existing users to get valuable feedback that is vital to ensuring Envaya's technology readily meets the unique needs and challenges of African civil society organizations. Jesse's efforts in leading Envaya's technological development have yielded some powerful new tools, including new, easier ways for users to interact with Envaya's system with only simple text messages), and improvements to our data collection system to support on-the-ground recovery in Dar es Salaam from recent catastrophic flash floods (more on that later). Joshua spent a good portion of the last couple months in Dar es Salaam, working to establish partnerships with several large development organizations with the goal of improving transparency and efficiency of support mechanisms to community-driven development efforts. While in Dar, Joshua had the honor of participating in two high-profile panels: 1) Discussing the state of Tanzania's software developer ecosystem at Google's G|Tanzania conference; and 2) Discussing the challenges and rewards of launching and running a social enterprise in East Africa at and MIT sponsored event at Tanzania's Commission for Science and Technology. Most seriously though, Envaya has been working very hard to empower Dar es Salaam's local civil society organizations who are leading recovery from floods that heavily damaged the city two months ago. In December, 2011, Dar es Salaam was hit by devastating flash floods (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-16299734). Tanzanians were killed, homes and businesses were destroyed, and infrastructure remains damaged across numerous districts. The full scope of physical damage is still being assessed in the poorer districts, there remains a high risk of health crises, and there will be long term negative economic impact. For Dar es Salaam to recover, the city’s local CSOs and communities must mobilize and take a leading role in the rebuilding effort, with the support of local and foreign governments, the development community, and disaster relief organizations. Envaya is working to coordinate CSO-led initiatives and working to secure relief funds for these critical community-led efforts. Envaya’s team has already begun a damage assessment, collecting information from CSOs and community stakeholders about the impact caused by the flooding and its after-effects, providing vital situational awareness for relief agents. As local CSOs begin receiving recovery funding, Envaya’s monitoring and reporting software will be able to provide crucial accountability and transparency. Community-driven recovery is optimal, as community members and local organizations are best suited to identify damage and recovery needs and ultimately lead rebuilding efforts. The good news is that local Tanzanian CSOs and community members are prepared to take the necessary leading role in helping assess and map the scale of damage, identify issues most critical to communities, and respond with local resources and man-power. Through hard work of CSOs, community members and Envaya's field team, and the usability of Envaya's software in even the toughest environments over 100 community surveys have been collected that map out and assess the most critical community needs (https://envaya.org/envaya/page/dar-es-salaam-flooding-community-survey). Community members and organizations are mobilized, issues have been identified, and people are taking action. Envaya is positioned to provide unprecedented transparency and coordination mechanisms, and the Tanzanian government is firmly behind our efforts (see attached letter from Tanzania's Ministry of Parliament). Resources are badly needed though. The districts most affected by the flood are Dar es Salaam's poorest, some aren't even official residential zones. Envaya is working to secure badly needed relief funding to support the on-the-ground efforts of the CSOs leading recovery initiatives. These are not giant "top-down" operations planned by foreigners, but are local efforts led by small, local community-based organizations with local understanding and expertise of local needs. Because of the power of Envaya's monitoring and reporting platform, local efforts are fully transparent. Even small amounts of relief money make a huge difference. So, with that Envaya is setting our next Global Giving fundraising target to raise an additional $25,000. This well help us directly support the flood recovery in Dar es Salaam, continue to empower civil society organizations with tools to easily get their stories out and connect with each other and support agencies, and continue to improve our technology. Thank you!
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