New and Emerging Forms of Violence Data for Crisis Response: A Comparative Analysis in Kenya

The project will produce a robust evidence base on the opportunities and limitations of social media data on violence reporting to inform UK emergency and crisis response, in the context of violence monitoring in Kenya.

Effective UK Government crisis and emergency response increasingly depends on the availability of timely, reliable data on political violence, to determine the scale and dimensions of crises and tailor responses. While social media reports of violence can inform the design, targeting, and geography of crisis response, there is limited robust research on their reliability and comprehensiveness.

This project addresses this gap, by testing reliability and comprehensiveness of social media data, against conventional media reporting of violence in a real-time context: the August 2017 Kenyan elections. It will identify opportunities new data provide for policy, and what limitations restrict usability, along three dimensions: 1) reporting timeliness; 2) targeting of crisis response; and 3) geographies of violence risk. Building on extensive social media use in Kenya, and a history of violence reporting via social media the case facilitates a test of social media data in a promising context.

The project is being carried out in partnership with researchers at the University of Sussex, the Armed Conflict Location & Event Dataset (ACLED), and the Centre for Human Rights and Policy Studies (CHRIPS) in Nairobi, Kenya.

Project details

start date
14 February 2017
end date
13 February 2018


About this project

Research themes
Conflict and Violence


Image of Deborah West
Deborah West

Project manager

Image of Gauthier Marchais
Gauthier Marchais

Research Fellow

Image of Jeremy Lind
Jeremy Lind

Research Fellow

Image of Patricia Justino
Patricia Justino

Cluster Leader and Research Fellow

Image of Tony Roberts
Tony Roberts

Research Fellow

Recent work


Using social media for monitoring violence in Kenya’s elections

On the 8 August, Kenyans once again went to the polls. Amidst fears of election violence, voting took place throughout the country. Caitriona Dowd asks if there a role that social media and digital technology could play in monitoring insecurity?

18 August 2017

Working Paper

The Impact of Social Media and Digital Technology on Electoral Violence in Kenya

IDS Working Paper;493

Electoral violence has become synonymous with Kenya’s elections. This acquired deadly proportions during the 2007 elections. However, it was also during this time that social media and digital technology was first used for political reasons including campaigning and polling. Social media and...

1 August 2017