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Using SMS for Stories from Somalia: New on the Mobile Media Toolkit!

In the Horn of Africa, Somalia makes headlines but often only because of drought, famine, crisis, and insecurity. Al Jazeera recently launched Somalia Speaks to help amplify stories from people and their everyday lives in the region – all via SMS. 

Somalia Speaks is a collaboration between Souktel, a Palestinian-based organization providing SMS messaging services, Ushahidi, Al Jazeera, Crowdflower, and the African Diaspora Institute. Al Jazeera’s Soud Hyder said in an interview with us, “We wanted to find out the perspective of normal Somali citizens to tell us how the crisis has affected them and the Somali diaspora.”

The goal of Somalia Speaks is to aggregate often-unheard voices as well as from the Somalia diaspora by asking via text message: How has the Somalia conflict affected your life? Responses are translated into English and plotted on an online map. Since the launch, approximately 3000 SMS messages have been received. Here is just one example:

I was born in the city of Wanlaweyn, and some of the people there are destroying things. I am poor now.

For Al Jazeera, Somalia Speaks is also a chance to pilot and test innovative mobile approaches to citizen media and news gathering. Visit the Mobile Media Toolkit to read the entire case study and learn more.

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