Digital Democracy

Digital Democracy (Dd) works in solidarity with marginalized
 communities to use technology to defend their rights. Their work uses technology to encourage democratic engagement, protect human rights and empower marginalized voices globally. Dd’s approach focuses on innovative uses of technology such as mapping, SMS messaging and new media to share critical information that has enabled a more immediate and effective response from care providers, facilitate better documentation of incidents of violence, and strengthen advocacy efforts around security issues for women in Haiti.

Abundance Foundation supported Dd to work with a coalition of legal advocates, health and psycho-social providers, and Haitian women and girls to create a comprehensive response to the growing epidemic of violence against women.

With support from the Abundance Foundation, Dd & grassroots Haitian partner KOFAVIV launched the 572 GBV Emergency Response Call Center, Haiti’s first emergency response hotline dedicated helping survivors of gender-based violence connect to free medical, legal & psychosocial services. The initiative co-created solutions, including:

  • DATA: Built a secure system to collect GBV data, allowing local women to track, analyze, map and share data on incidents of violence. Over 1,000 incidents have been reported to police, government and other influencers over the last two years.
  • MOBILES: Launched the 572 GBV Emergency Response Call Center, Haiti’s first emergency hotline for GBV. The call center, open 24 hours a day, has fielded over 3,500 calls and connected hundreds of GBV victims to free medical, legal and psychosocial services.
  • MEDIA: Enabled local women to document and share realities in their communities through workshops in journalism, digital photography and blogging. A subsequent blog and photo exhibition brought Haitian women’s issues to national and international audiences.

Impact: Empowerment through skills, responsibilities and leadership training. Women with no prior formal employment are now managing teams and systems, advocating more strategically and positioned to help a larger community of survivors.

Abundance Foundation also stepped in to provide crucial early funding for Dd’s Remote Access project. This project adapted open-source tools to work offline and in extreme environments, building tools that allow communities to document environmental degradation and government threats, map their use of the land, and engage with a global audience using mobile technology. Following Abundance Foundation’s initial catalyzing grant, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation stepped in with a $525,000 investment to enable the work to expand.

As Emily Jacobi, Dd founder said,

“Thanks to your support, we first tested the prototype for this tool on our trip to Chiapas. That early experiment showed us that easier offline mapping was possible, and we continued to test and iterate. Now, the tool is being used by 3 different Nationalities in Ecuador, and has been used to map over 200,000 hectares of territory, hundreds of paths and rivers, and thousands of points including sacred sites, animals and birds, medicinal plants and all. Most importantly, the tool is running offline on our partners’ computers, and they’re able to control and manage all this information themselves – even (and especially) when we’re not there.”

Impact: Through their support, Digital Democracy’s local partners are mapping and monitoring millions of acres of land in the Amazon, holding oil companies and governments accountable, working to prevent new oil concessions, and working to secure their land rights so that their environment can be protected for future generations.

Emily Jacobi: Digital Democracy from Abundance Foundation on Vimeo.