As conditions in Afghanistan continue to deteriorate and the Taliban take control of its major cities, it has been a challenge for its citizens to obtain accurate information on what is happening at all times. Rest of the world tell the story from the Kabul-based startup Ehtesab, which relies on vetted user collective collaboration reports to track everything from power outages to bombings and traffic jams, and sends the information to your app, which then sends push notifications.
Ehtesab stands for “accountability” in Dari and Pashto, and the app, formally launched in March 2020, offers optimized security-related information, including general security updates in Kabul, to its users. With real-time collaborative alerts, users across the city can track bomb explosions, barricades, power outages, or other problems near them. The app, which generates automatic notifications about nearby security risks, is supported by 20 employees working at the company’s Kabul office, according to [founder Sara] Wahedi.
Wahedi and her staff are working remotely for her safety, she says. Rest of the world even they were surprised by how quickly the Afghan government collapsed, and Ehtesab avoids mentioning the Taliban in its security updates, providing information “discreetly”:
For example, an obstacle may indicate that there could be danger, but of course we cannot directly say that there is a danger. If we are accused of building a narrative against the government, then we can affirm that we provide information about a checkpoint and nothing else, since it affects the popular movement. That is the strategy we are adopting.
It has become increasingly difficult to get information in and out of Kabul in recent days, but Wahedi said he felt a responsibility towards Afghanistan’s younger generation, who “have grown up in the war.” Silence, Wahedi says, “gives the Taliban an advantage.”
Go read this story on what it’s like to collect and disseminate crucial information amid the chaos in Afghanistan.