An sms-based platform for reporting corruption and harassment at East African border crossings. 

Learn more about the Transparency Challenge and how citizen reporting platforms can be used to hold government officials accountable and reduce corruption. 



Informal cross-border trade is a major feature of African economies: it creates jobs, contributes to food and energy security, and alleviates poverty. Notably, women make up 70-80% of cross border traders and reinvest up to 90% of their income in their families and communities, making the income earned through these activities critical to their household, including the education and health of their children. Yet, small traders are particularly vulnerable to higher levels of harassment from border officials (customs, police, and immigration), including excessive charges, bribe extortion, impounding of goods, difficulties in obtaining passports and visas, sexual harassment, and gender-based violence. They are often unaware of their rights as traders, customs procedures and the required documentation - further exacerbated by an information asymmetry that prevents them from holding corrupt officials to account. 

Sauti means voice in Swahili. It is an sms-based advocacy, prevention, and response tool that uses crowd-sourced data to map incidents of harassment and bribery at border crossings across East Africa. Traders will be able to access a toll-free number that will send out both automated and tailored information on documentation, taxes and tariffs applicable to their products, as well as regular updates on any changes to border procedures. Sauti intends that all advocacy campaigns that utilize data gathered through the platform to be owned by the beneficiaries and organizations -- including the East African Sub Regional Support initiative for the Advancement of Women (EASSI) and the network of Cross-Border Trader Associations -- representing them. Rather than engaging directly in advocacy, Sauti wants to provide these partners with the right tools and data so they can drive these efforts themselves. 

The operational model for Sauti's online platform is divided into three sections: Data Reporting which outlines how incidence reports will be collected, Presenting which describes how incidence reports will be aggregated and delivered, and Engaging which describes what services will be made available to users. After being revised following participatory feedback, the platform will be launched with an initial set of training workshops at each of the pilot border crossings. At each border crossing, EASSI will help to identify 50 champion traders who will participate in the training and educate other son how to use the platform. 



  • 3 borders targeted during the pilot
  • 1,500 traders utilizing the SMS system during the pilot 
  • 4 national and regional advocacy campaigns implemented using Sauti reports during pilot
  • 9 Borders targeted by year 2 
  • 5,000 traders utilizing the SMS system by year 2 
  • 10,000 people viewing Sauti's data per month by year 2 
  • 8 national and regional advocacy campaigns implemented using Sauti reports by year 2 



Julia Lipowiecka - Manager of partnership and advocacy  

Lance Hadley - Platform designer, web developmer

Diego Hakspiel - Manager of monitoring and evaluation