Making all Voices Count: innovative ICT solutions for social change

May 7, 2013

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” This famous quote from Apple founder Steve Jobs captures the spirit of an ambitious new initiative called Making all Voices Count: A Grand Challenge for Development (MAVC).

Hivos is proud to announce it will lead the consortium, consisting also of IDS and Ushahidi, that is to manage the MAVC fund from the 1st of June 2013. MAVC brings together four donors: U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), UK Department for International Development (DFID), Omidyar Network (ON) and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), who created a $45 million fund to support innovation, scaling-up, and research that will deepen existing innovations and help harness new technologies to enable citizen engagement and government responsiveness.

One of today’s toughest problems is the immense gap between citizens and government. A gap between the street and the state. It manifests itself all over the world, in low income countries, emerging economies and rich countries alike. The gap is widened by growing social inequality within societies. It is further deepened by citizens lacking access to proper public services – and even more by the denial of their basic human rights.

A prerequisite for bridging this gap and improving governments’ responsiveness is to engage citizens, and new technology offers a way to achieve this.Today, our information society demands contemporary, innovative solutions to address persistent problems. We call this technology for social change.              

The Making all Voices Count initiative will support such innovative solutions and scale up successful ventures. Evidence-based research will be a key element, given the rapidly evolving nature of interventions in this relatively new field. The ultimate aim of MAVC is to catalyse global action. We wish to engage the general public and raise awareness of the underlying problems surrounding the citizen-government relationship. Crowdsourcing will also be used as an ideal way to let the best ideas and successful solutions surface.

Hivos has been using tech for change since the mid ‘90s and brings a solid track record of proven interventions whose ultimate aim is the empowerment of marginalised groups to demand a better quality of life. 

The Uchaguzi platform we support in Kenya is a vivid example of how transparency can revitalise democracy. Citizen reports, using text messages and social media, were mapped during the 2013 election period. They presented a clear view of what was actually happening on the street and at polling stations. An election process that once resembled a black box – a murky process with unpredictable outcomes – gained legitimacy through the use of ICT.   

Digital platforms such as Hivos partners Global Voices and Mid-East Youth amplify the voices of thousands of activists blogging for justice and equity around the world. In turn, these websites provide source material for mainstream media reporting on social issues that puts the responsible authorities on the spot.  

MAVC is yet another way in which Hivos supports innovative ideas with the potential to change the world.