Using Innovation and Human-Centred Design Approaches to Promote Civic Engagement in Sudan

Khartoum, 12 May, 2015: UNDP Sudan conducted its first prototyping workshop for its newly proposed online platform “Raik Shino.”

“Raik Shino” is an online gamified dialogue platform that enables the Sudanese public with a forum to creatively interact and discuss the future of Sudan. 

The idea was developed by the Joint Conflict Reduction Programme (JCRP)/UNDP Sudan in collaboration with a game developing company, Serious Games Interactive.

The initiative was chosen as one amongst four winning proposals for the cross-regional UNDP Technology for Citizen Engagement Challenge in April 2015, and is currently under development.

Participants in the workshop ranged from Peace Ambassadors, academics from peace institutes across Sudan and members of the private sector interested in innovation for peacebuilding in Sudan.

Participants were tasked with testing and refining ideas related to the development of using a human-centred design approach. For many this was their first encounter with human-centred design thinking and the day presented an altogether different way of working which required active participation and critical thinking by all participants at every stage. Another important objective of the workshop was to inform and review the framework of “Raik Shino” and to create a group of prototyping champions to support the testing and implementation of the platform in various parts of Sudan.

Manahail Ibrahim,
Head of a local NGO in Blue Nile State named “Windows for Peace & Development” highlighted the benefits of this platform as being “A successful initiative for social reform to address the daily challenges that pertain to our community. I very much like the fact that this is not just an interactive platform for talking. It provides solutions through the use of games and it is in Arabic; making it more appealing.  This is an extremely useful tool for exchanging information and successes amongst in conflict areas. “

added “I am however a little skeptical of the use technology for citizen engagement for those who are not tech savvy given that there are citizens who have constructive solutions to the challenges presented, but do not know how to use such tools.” Manahil also referred to the problem of internet connectivity in remote areas which might also be an obvious bottleneck for reaching the maximum number of participants to optimize the use of the platform.”

Dr. Abdel Magid Mohamed of the Peace University in West Kordofan stated that “I was genuinely pleased by the diversity shown in the selection of participants to this workshop representing areas from all over Sudan.  I am very enthusiastic about this initiative and I see it as a huge opportunity, I feel though that it came in rather late despite our evident need for a participatory approach to solve our problems.”

Dr. Abdel Magid adds “I also want developers to think about the fact that intermittent connectivity in certain areas could pose as huge challenge given that the platform targets primarily those in least developed areas.  Another thought that comes to mind is that developers need consider the elements that which could motivate users to choose “Raik Shino” over other platforms out there.”

He further outlined certain bottlenecks for the platform “Its main disadvantage is that certain individuals will not feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and solutions on an open platform especially when the issue involves tribal tensions. I would suggest that the developers leave it to the end-users to decide whether they wish to disclose their identities or not. I also think that the idea of having “focal points” in certain states could overcome the problem of not having enough people in an area who are computer literate and should greatly encourage them to participate.   Overall, I see this as a huge opportunity for us to think our challenges with from a holistic point of view and not just focus on our communities.”

With valuable inputs like these from all participants throughout the day, developers at Serious Games Interactive are now able to design the first prototype for testing in Arabic.

The workshop concluded by the participants  reiterating their commitment to engage with UNDP and Serious Games Interactive to refine the platform and to support the testing and implementation of it in various parts of Sudan.  With other Arab States following this development very closely, the ultimate goal is that Raik Shino can also become a platform that is replicable to other conflict-affected settings where communities would like to explore the use of gaming for peacebuilding.