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Côte d'Ivoire: Humanitarian Aid Via Twitter Hashtag

This post is part of our special coverage Côte d'Ivoire Unrest 2011.

The last week has been crucial for the West African nation of Côte d'Ivoire. The country has been facing a deep political crisis since December 3, 2010, when the Ivorian Electoral Commission declared Alassane Ouattara to have won the presidential election, whereas the Constitutional Council which proclaimed incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, winner of the ballot.

Internally displaced people in Duekoue, western Côte d'Ivoire, driven from their homes by attacks from pro-Ouattara militias in January 2011. Image by Flickr user Sunset Parkerpix (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Internally displaced people in Duekoue, western Côte d'Ivoire, driven from their homes by attacks from pro-Ouattara militias in January 2011. Image by Flickr user Sunset Parkerpix (CC BY-SA 2.0).

After a rapid advance over the south and west of the country, Republican Forces loyal to internationally recognised president Ouattara reached economic capital Abidjan on March 31, 2011, and surrounded the Presidential Residence in Cocody, where Laurent Gbagbo was said to have taken shelter.

Since then, violent fighting has been taking place in the city, and a night curfew has been imposed by Ouattara's government from Saturday April 2, to Monday April 4.

Tweets amidst the turmoil

In the midst of this turmoil, the Twitter hashtag #civ2010 has been providing an essential source of information in the country. However, many Twitter users have raised their voices to complain that the hashtag is fast becoming a virtual means for supporters of both camps to confront each other.

Kojito R. Gossoum, tweeting via @N2_language [fr], expressed this frustration:

Est-il possible d'ignorer ceux qui font dans l'intox et la provocation? S'il vous plait! Nous voulons des info #civ2010

Is it possible to ignore those who spread false news and provocate? Please! We want information #civ2010

@bish00p [fr] continues:

#civ2010 avant entre 2 insultes, y'avait des infos sur ce fil, now, y'a plus que des insultes quasiment. C d'un laid

#civ2010 Back in the day, between 2 insults, there was actually information on this feed [the #civ2010 hashtag]. Now there are almost only insults. It's so ugly

This prompted blogger Nnenna to publish a bitter blog post ‘Hashtag or Hate-tag‘, in which she explains what #civ2010 was about when it was created, and what it has now become:

Then the run off on November 28.. and the “the walls came tumbling down”. What a great transformation of the tag. It has gone from citizen watch and reporting space to a kind of association of folks who have something in common: someone or something they hate! Granted, the war is raging on the streets of Abidjan, but the war on Twitter is equally viral..

#civsocial

In response to this general exasperation, Ivorian Twitter users decided on Sunday 3 April, to create another hashtag, on which humanitarian news and emergencies could be shared.

Edith Brou (@edithbrou) [fr], a community manager from Côte d'Ivoire, explains:

Twittons utiles, twittons efficaces, pour sauver des vies, vi@ le Web ivoirien.#civsocial… Un seul tweet peut faire la difference, le tien

Let's tweet usefully, tweet efficiently, to save lives, vi@ [via] the Ivorian Web. #civsocial… Only one tweet can make the difference – yours

Twitter user Nadira (@Naddah) [fr], a “French with Algerian roots”, adds:

Ivoiriens au lieu de vous insulter sur le fil #Civ2010, rendez vous utile sur le fil#CivSocial

Ivorians, instead of insulting each other on #Civ2010, make yourself useful on #civsocial

Meanwhile, Twitter user and web developer from Abidjan, cartunelo (@cartunelo) [fr] started spreading the word on humanitarian needs via #civsocial, about a person who had just been shot:

#civsocial, besoin d un médecin à la star 6 la soeur dune amie vient de prendr une balle!si oui,ses contacts svp!très urgent!!!#civ2010

#civsocial, We need a doctor at the Star 6 area, the sister of a friend has just been shot!! If you know one, we urgently need his/her contact details!!!#civ2010

His call was spread on both the #civsocial and #civ2010 hashtags, and in the end the young girl was saved, as cartunelo reported later [fr]:

Grace a votre aide L'hémorragie de la 1ere fille a stoppé. Besoin maintenant de xylocaine. Contactez 40003480/03784354 #civsocial,#civ2010

Thanks to your help, the bleeding has stopped. Now we need xylocaine. Contact 10003480/03784354 #civsocial,#civ2010

First Aid Twitter tips

The #civsocial hashtag has also become a place to share advice on how to provide First Aid to the wounded, as @Naddah [fr] explains:

gestes de premier secours http://bit.ly/eKsyUr #civ2010#CivSocial

First Aid http://bit.ly/eKsyUr #civ2010#CivSocial

In a time of war, healthy water becomes rare; Twitter users have also been using both #civ2010 and #civsocial to share information on how to clean water. Patience (@zorociv2011) [fr], a Twitter user in Abidjan shared the following:

#civ2010 #civsocial Eau insalubre? Filtrer avec tissus. 1 cuillère à soupe de javelle pour 6 a 8 lit d'eau. attendre 15 mn ==>ok eau potable

#civ2010 #civsocial Dirty water? Filter it with material. 1 spoonful of bleach to 6 to 8 liters of water. Wait 15 mn [minutes] ==> your water is drinkable

This post is part of our special coverage Côte d'Ivoire Unrest 2011.

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