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Three “HackToAct” awards granted to promote democracy and citizenship in the region15.07.2021

15 Hack teams worked day and night during online Hackathon “HackToAct” organized by EU-funded programme Med Dialogue for Rights and Equality from 8 to 11 July 2021. The teams composed by activists, IT developers and graphic designers were supported by IT experts and mentors to refine their ideas and develop digital solution prototypes boosting the impact of technology on better governance, transparency, participation in decision making process, thus contributing to reforms and democratic changes in their home countries.

This online event gathered around 45 civil society actors IT professionals & graphic designers from Mashrek and Maghreb countries to work together in teams on digital solutions covering several areas like e-participation, e-transparency, open data, citizen’s mobilisation, responsible citizenship, citizen-to-citizen services, civil society safety, watchdog & claim support, governmental transparency & accountability, etc.

At the end of the Hackathon and following a final pitching session, three teams were awarded the “HackToAct Award” and granted technical and financial support of 10,000 € each, to further develop, test and launch their digital tools in the upcoming months. The awarded teams are:

  • YASMENA team: Asmaa Khairy (activist, Egypt), Malik Altawati (IT developer, Libya) and Ahmed Farrag (graphic designer, Egypt):

YASMENA is a mobile app that aims at real time reporting and mapping of sexual harassment in Egypt. This app provides support resources and details, informs users about harassment hotspots, and helps them report and document any crime. The data obtained through Yasmena can help decision makers allocate resources to hotspots and improve their care services for the victims. With the accumulating efforts and contributions of all stakeholders of Yasmena, creators hope to get a safer public space for everyone to take part, without the fear of forfeiting one’s body dignity. Yasmena is a gender friendly, safe, supportive, and informative tool.

Why did the selection committee choose Yasmena?

The solution addresses a real problem in Egypt that women are facing every day, and whose solution can be scalable in the rest of the MENA region. Furthermore, it aims at making women more aware about their right to have rights and at reinforcing their capacities to become engaged citizens in their communities. Besides that, Yasmena project evolved considerably from the Ideathon phase until the end of the Hackathon following experts’ recommendations – thanks to the contribution of the creative team the project hired. During the pitching session, the team presented a well-developed prototype with a very friendly design.

  • NASEEM team : Moustafa Gouda (activist, Egypt), Hashem Buzer (IT developer, Libya) and Youssef Hamdaoui (graphic designer, Morocco):

NASEEM is a digital solution that enables users to gather, visualize, and share urban air quality data using an integrated system of portable low-cost sensors, a mobile application, and a website platform. The solution is based on the concept of Citizen Science, while the youth citizens are not just collecting air quality measurements but they are involved through a new approach of environmental awareness and practice. NASEEM solution is consisting of three pillars: gathering data by sensors, raising awareness of users and the public, and supporting informed decision-making. Furthermore, the provided open data sets will be a source for researchers on air-related topics and for advocacy initiatives for environmental rights.

Why did the selection committee choose NASEEM?

The project is very innovative and provides a scalable solution. It tackles an important issue in the Egyptian context by providing educational content to citizens and youth, while encouraging them to be more active in environmental watchdog action and in influencing the policy-making process. Very well designed, this easy-to use application will offer open data to the public and potential scientific research. Furthermore, the team presented marketing solutions to generate income which remain important to ensure the durability of the project. During the pitching session, a constructive distribution of roles between team members was noted – what represents a key factor for the achievement of the expected project objectives.

  • ADALA-BOT team: Khaled Aldroubi (activist & IT developer, Syria) and Seifeddine Rabhi (graphic designer, Algeria)

ADALA-BOT is a chatbot providing legal support to Syrians inside Syria and Syrian refugees. In the pilot phase of the project, the Chatbot will chat with the targeted cases/claims, provides them with legal information and advice, and directs them to legal organizations in the areas where they live, without requesting any personal information. Adala-Bot will empower Syrians in better knowing their democratic rights and legal provisions they must deal with! This initiative is a unique innovation for the Middle East and the Arabic speaking countries. It could be easily accessed by Syrians from their homes, by engaging in a conversation with the chatbot through their electronic devices, while protecting their privacy.

Why did the selection committee choose Adala-bot?

This innovative idea tackles an important issue at a regional level by providing customized services. It has the potential to evolve and perfectly meet the target population (refugees)’ needs. Designed by a very harmonious teamwork, the solution is extremely attractive and adapted to the legal needs of the beneficiaries. In terms of durability, the solution aims to benefit financially from other organizations’ subscriptions to the chatbot, which can in return manage the cases/claims put forward by them. Besides that, during the pitching session, the project presentation reflected how much the team worked hard to progress and adapt their solution according to the experts’ recommendations.

It is recalled that this event is the second step of a “Civic and digital space” capacity building scheme designed by Med Dialogue Programme. It was preceded by an online Ideathon held in May 2021 and gathering activists from different countries to compete and to develop their initial ideas. Out of them, 17 activists were selected to participate in this Hackathon. Initially planned in Tunis (Tunisia), HackToAct Hackthon had to be switched into an online version due to the pandemic situation in Tunisia.

Med Dialogue for Rights and Equality is a 3-year (2019-2022) EU-funded technical assistance regional programme with the overall objective to strengthen the role of CSOs active at the regional scale, in building sustainable development, regional cohesion and social resilience, as well as influencing policy-making in the South end Neighborhood and the Euro-Mediterranean region.

For more information, please contact fatma.ladgham@particip.com, Med Dialogue for Rights and Equality communication expert.

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