By Ogova Ondego
Published February 28, 2015
A mobile-phone game for educating voters on peace and tolerance during general elections in Kenya has won a United Nations prize.
HAKI 2: CHAGUO NI LAKO, that was developed with a view to preventing violence related to general elections as had happened in 2007/2008, is among three international projects that are to receive US$5 000 cash prize each from United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for winning in a global competition called PEACEapp which is organised by UNAOC and UNDP in collaboration with Build Up with a view to promoting “digital games and gamified apps as venues for cultural dialogue and conflict management.”
HAKI 2: CHAGUO NI LAKO (Kiswahili for Justice 2: The Choice is Yours!), that is available to download for free from the Google Play app store, was one of three projects selected from more than 100 applicants from 42 countries who participated in the 2014 PEACEapp contest with projects that “tackled different aspects of peace-building and cross-cultural dialogue in engaging and innovative ways.”
Having witnessed the cataclysmic event that was the post 2007 election violence, creators had developed HAKI 2: CHAGUO NI LAKO to urge voters to commit themselves to a culture of peace, tolerance and democracy ahead of the 2013 general elections in the East African Country.
Other US$5 000 cash award-winning projects were EVERYDAY RACISM from Australia and CONFLICT SIMULATION PLATFORM from Germany. Whereas the former is said to be “the world’s first mobile phone app that challenges users to live in the shoes of someone who frequently experiences racism,” the latter is “about expanding an existing browser-based multiplayer gaming platform to simulate political conflicts on a wide range of peace-related issues, such as terrorism, migration, as well as international and domestic conflict.”
Winners to receive mentorship for completing their projects are two prototypes: a virtual game from Canada which fosters a sense of community and collaboration as well as ethical values; and a digital game from Brazil which helps players develop empathy skills to end conflicts.
“The broad range of projects submitted to the PEACEapp competition shows the huge untapped potential of new technologies to create new spaces for dialogue and story-sharing, and to overcome stereotypes” said Patrick Keuleers, Director of Governance and Peace-building at UNDP. “Mobile apps and games offer smart and cost-effective ways to engage communities and citizens of all ages. They help people break down walls, be they walls of division, oppression, injustice or prejudice.”
On his part, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, United Nations High Representative for UNAOC, said “With PEACEapp, the UNAOC once again focuses on innovative ways to provide opportunities for fostering understanding and tolerance among individuals from different religious and cultural backgrounds, by supporting the development of new platforms for questioning stereotypes and developing empathy, such as video games and gamified apps. The UNAOC is pleased to work with UNDP to infuse humanistic values into digital entertainment.”
Another Kenyan project called JANJARUKA GBV MAZE GAME that “was developed to work towards empowering children to recognize, prevent and take action against sexual abuse”, was among 10 other global contestants that came in for ‘honourable mentions’ from the jury with members drawn from peace-building, technology and international development sectors.
“These impressive submissions to the PEACEapp competition from all corners of the world highlight the universality of principles such as human dignity, equality and peaceful co-existence,” ,” said UNDP’s Keuleers.
The PEACEapp awards ceremony shall be held in the framework of the Build Peace Conference in Nicosia, Cyprus, in April 2015.
“The rising use of mobile phones and new technologies offer fresh avenues for participation and enables the collection and dissemination of information that can be used in multiple ways, including for early-warning and increased transparency. UNDP supports a range of projects that integrate the potential of new technologies for conflict prevention in countries such as Georgia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan and Cyprus,” says a media statement issued by Sangita Khadka of UNDP.
The PEACEapp competition brought technological innovators and activists together from around the world to create hi-tech and fun tools that can contribute to a culture of peace.