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Agricultural data for equal development in Nigeria: Open Data Day 2020 report

- June 8, 2020 in Nigeria, Open Data Day, Open Data Day 2020

On Saturday 7th March 2020, the tenth Open Data Day took place with people around the world organising over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. Thanks to generous support from key funders, the Open Knowledge Foundation was able to support the running of more than 60 of these events via our mini-grants scheme This blogpost is a report by Dr Philip Ifejika from the National Institute for Freshwater Fisheries Research in Nigeria who received funding from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to develop an event to sensitise agricultural stakeholders on the need and benefits of data for equal development.

Our Open Data Day 2020 event on “Sensitisation of Agricultural Stakeholders on the Need and Benefits of Data for Equal Development” got wide publicity in the social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, and WhatsApp groups which was hosted in National Institute for Freshwater Fisheries Research (NIFFR), New Bussa, Niger State Nigeria.

The event attracted interest and commendations from individuals and groups from different states of Nigeria namely; Niger, Anambra, Abuja, Benue, Enugu, and Rivers as well as African countries like Zambia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Sudan, Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania mostly from members of Alumini Group-Farm Management Online Course including GODAN Discussion group.

The colourful event was declared open by Dr Mbagwu, I.G. Director of Research Operations, in the presence of NIFFR management staff and was well attended by 135 participants comprising of 56% men and 44% women.

Stakeholders were educated and sensitised on ASFA Database, Fisheries Database Project and the Need and Benefits of Data for Equal Development.

Promoting the ASFA Database, the Head of Library, Information and Documentation, Mrs V.A.K. Sado, shared NIFFR’s experience since 2003. Unfortunately ASFA has restrictions and is not available freely as open data.

Dr, Mbagwu, I.G. Director of Research Operations, then gave an update on the Fisheries Database project which was inconclusive due to poor funding and the inconsistence of government. According to him, the project was designed to cover the fisheries and inland water bodies’ data of the entire country.

For the main business of the day, Dr Philip Ifejika, the ODD programme implementer, provided more insights on Open Data Day, the Open Knowledge Foundation and the Data for Equal Development movement.

Dr Ifejika highlighted the benefits of open data to farmers, groups and organisations as well as its application at farm and organisation levels to develop business model and participate in data-driven agriculture. On data for equal development, he demonstrated link between equity and equality, need for gender empowerment and data aggregation.

Participants expressed delight with the new knowledge as well as expressing readiness to be open on data sharing, participate in database development and join more training to reap in the benefit of data economy, equity and equality in development.

Amplifying civil society voices focused on nutrition in Nigeria: Open Data Day 2020 report

- June 8, 2020 in Nigeria, Open Data Day, Open Data Day 2020

On Saturday 7th March 2020, the tenth Open Data Day took place with people around the world organising over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. Thanks to generous support from key funders, the Open Knowledge Foundation was able to support the running of more than 60 of these events via our mini-grants scheme This blogpost is a report by Mary Ajakaye from Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria in Nigeria who received funding from the Open Contracting Partnership to increase implementation of high impact nutrition interventions by encouraging the use of open data for decision-making. In commemoration of Open Data Day 2020, the Civil Society-Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) hosted a virtual meeting on 15th May 2020. The virtual meeting which was convened by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) chapter of the alliance drew 35 participants from the CS-SUNN Steering Committee, National Secretariat, FCT, Kaduna, Lagos, Nasarawa and Rivers State Chapters. Other participants were from the Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning and the National Bureau of Statistics. The day was also marked with a live tweet chat on Twitter which showcased updates from the meeting and provided answers to questions on open data from CS-SUNN Twitter followers. More than just presentations, the meeting provided a collaborative ground to explore open data and amplify civil society voices calling for data to be more open and accessible in Nigeria. We considered if Nigeria was practicing an open data system, the flexibility of approved bodies “custodians of data” in releasing data, challenges of open data and recommended strategies to improve open data in Nigeria.  Key presentations during the meeting focused on “Overview of data and challenges in Data Access” by Mrs Glory Uzoaga, a statistician with the National Bureau of Service and “Data Management, Open storage, prerequisites for open data, ethics in data usage and importance in development work” by Airaoje Karl. In his presentation, Karl identified factors which inhibits an open data system to include copyright laws, policies and also the sensitivity of the data generated and stated that open data remains key for programming, decision-making and accountability in Nigeria.  He emphasised the need for open data as this will ensure all agencies, bodies and organisations that generate data should make such data available to the public in reusable formats. In a contribution CS-SUNN Executive Secretary Beatrice Eluaka explained that in working with government stakeholders, building trust is a key to accessing data. She explained the importance of developing briefs, informational materials, score cards and data analysis to provide stakeholders with an appraisal of where they have been doing well in terms of policy formulation and implementation, funding and budgeting. This, she said, gives room for further improvement. She cited how CS-SUNN engagement in some states in Nigeria has led to improved budgetary allocations for nutrition. The event convener, Ms Ngozika Ogbonna, urged participants to familiarise themselves with Nigeria’s Freedom of Information Bill to be empowered to access public information without being denied access to it. She identified some sources of data in Nigeria including the National Bureau of Statistics and the Data Release Calendar. Key recommendations from the meeting included:
  1. The need for all stakeholders and data/information users to study Nigeria’s FoI Act 2011 and understand what the position of the document on open data/data access is. This will simplify its use as a standpoint for advocacy on open data at all levels.
  2. Advocacy for a unified database where all research data (raw and processed) generated within Nigeria (by parastatals, research bodies, universities, professional bodies etc) can be posted for free access and use by any interested parties. The unified platform should be such that all ethical review boards can share research works submitted to them. Also, journals originating from Nigeria should be made accessible on the platform for free.
  3. Improved advocacy, sensitisation and citizen engagement to make data more open and accessible in Nigeria.
  4. The need for open data to begin with CSOs in Nigeria. All organisations that have generated any form of data that may be useful to other organisations. The government and other bodies should also share such data in reusable formats and on accessible platforms.
  5. The need for civil society organisations to get authorisation from appropriate authorities in Nigeria like institutional review boards, relevant ministries, departments and agencies in order to effectively collate data.
The CS-SUNN FCT chapter of the alliance appreciates the Open Knowledge Foundation sponsoring the event and the CS-SUNN National Secretariat for granting the Chapter the privilege to take the lead on this.

Managing fisheries in Nigeria using open data: Open Data Day 2020 report

- June 8, 2020 in Nigeria, Open Data Day, Open Data Day 2020

On Saturday 7th March 2020, the tenth Open Data Day took place with people around the world organising over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. Thanks to generous support from key funders, the Open Knowledge Foundation was able to support the running of more than 60 of these events via our mini-grants scheme This blogpost is a report from the Adamawa Agricultural Development Programme in Nigeria who received funding from Resource Watch to sensitise fishery stakeholders on the importance of stock taking to prevent overfishing and how to update a fisheries database using open data. The Adamawa team held a training workshop on the importance of stock taking to prevent overfishing in our water bodies and enhance water resource sustainability using an open data approach on the 7th March 2020 in Yola, Nigeria. Our aim was to sensitise the public on the use of open data applications in reporting with respect to stock taking to enhance fisheries resource sustainability and better fisheries management decisions.  The opening statement was given by Mr Emma Ngadina, a fisheries technologist, who highlighted that fisheries management decisions are often taken with difficulty and without reference to the status of exploited stocks in the water bodies due to poor stock assessment.  This was followed by the full sensitisation by Professor O.A. Sogbesan who stated that over-fishing was being caused by the weak capacities of fisheries administrators with respect to adequately interpreting and utilising research data for informed management decision-making.   Professor Sogbesan went on to explore the following topics:
  • Introducing the issue of sustainability – what is it? 
  • Sustainable populations and overfishing 
  • The effects of unsustainable fishing and the status of our fisheries 
  • Why manage fisheries? 
  • Data collection strategies
Before conducting the following sensitisation training exercises:
  • Data issues in fisheries data collection 
  • Developing data collection programmes for a variety of fisheries 
  • Data requirements for fisheries and aquaculture policy-making 
By the end of the session, the fisheries stakeholders (students, fishermen, etc) had an improved understanding of the issues associated with data collection, analysis and interpretation of scientific data for informed decision-making.  The gathering contributed to strengthening the capacities of participants in the collection, analysis and use of data on fisheries for making informed decisions.  But attendees stressed the need for the allocation of more training days to allow for increased and much better understanding of concepts, techniques and skills of data and their interpretation for fisheries management and responsible aquaculture. 

Using budget and contract data to strengthen democracy in Nigeria: Open Data Day 2020 report

- May 26, 2020 in Nigeria, Open Data Day, Open Data Day 2020

On Saturday 7th March 2020, the tenth Open Data Day took place with people around the world organising over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. Thanks to generous support from key funders, the Open Knowledge Foundation was able to support the running of more than 60 of these events via our mini-grants scheme

This blogpost is a report from Dataphyte in Nigeria who received funding from the Open Contracting Partnership to support change agents to track and use budget, procurement and revenue data to demand accountability.

Open data is being promoted in government, businesses, and amongst individuals globally. This is because of its social, economic, and environmental benefits. The idea emphasises that data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control. Open data prioritises availability and usability of data. As such, it is data that can be assessed, used, and shared by anyone. 

In Nigeria, the work of journalists, development practitioners, researchers, students, and other data users is limited by the unavailability of data. In some cases where data is available, the format in which it is presented makes it extremely difficult to use. In addition, because Nigeria does not have a centrally collated data portal, data is often found in remote places where they may not be readily accessible to users. 

In recognition of the gaps in data accessibility and utilisation in Nigeria, Dataphyte organised the Abuja Open Data Day 2020 on the 7th March 2020. Dataphyte celebrated the international event alongside many other groups globally by hosting an interactive data session on strategies and tools to track and use budget, procurement and revenue data to demand accountability

Thirty-three participants across twelve organisations interested in tracking and using budget, procurement, and revenue data to demand accountability registered and attended the data party. Since the whole activity of the day was conceived to be mainly interactive, at the point of registration, provision was made for participants to indicate what they want to learn, share and which types of open data would be of most interest to them.

The event then focused on five main themes:

  • Using budget data in Nigeria and where to find it
  • Using contract data in Nigeria and where to find it
  • Follow the money: How to track public expenditures in local communities
  • Telling stories with open data: storytelling mechanisms and tools for journalists
  • Analytical tools for storytelling challenges

The chief executive officer of Dataphyte, Joshua Olufemi, declared the event open with a speech on open data principles. The opening remarks were followed by three distinct sessions – a case study session, peer learning session, and a breakout session. 

Case study session: during this session, participants were instructed on the different data platforms that can aid their work, the existent data formats, the budget process, and how to tell data-driven stories. The session also included a lecture on grassroots advocacy using public data and statistical tools for data analysis. This session was facilitated by representatives of CODE, Dataphyte, ICIR, PPDC, and PTCIJ. 

The Peer Learning Session: this session comprised a skill share session among participants. In groups, participants taught each other on data scraping tools, data analysis tools, data visualisation tools, and data mapping tools. Participants were free to move around and learn more than a single data processing tool. 

Datathon (Breakout Session): this session provided participants with a practical touch of all that was shared during the event. Participants were divided into groups based on interest and were assigned to conduct specific activities on selected subjects. Specifically, participants were tasked to source, analyse, and present existing public data set on agriculture, education, extractive, gender, and security.

The major obstacle to tracking the public flow of money in Nigeria is mainly the availability of open data on appropriation and expenditure of funds for different projects. It is either the data is not accessible or that existing open data sources contain incomplete data. Notwithstanding, change agents use open source and enterprise applications and online tools to locate and make available to the public, existing datasets. These public data is then used to demand accountability and ensure government transparency.

During the sessions, participants shared some concerns on Nigeria’s data space. Some of these concerns include: 

  • Data hoarding among data publishers including government institutions and civil society organisations
  • The need for synergy in the data collection and publication process 
  • Obsoleteness of Nigerian public data 
  • The challenge of data verification 
  • The need for a central repository of Nigerian open data

Participants of the Abuja Open Data Day agreed to the following:

  • Work towards developing a central database through which datasets in the possession of different other organisations can be assessed
  • Ensure that “data janitors” making their data open clean that data properly to avoid repeated cleaning by a subsequent user of the same data
  • To increase contracting transparency and government accountability by carrying out a deeper analysis of budget, procurement and revenue data
  • Increase the advocacy for open government data

Behind the scenes

The programme was supported by the Open Knowledge Foundation through its Open Data Day mini-grant scheme. In the course of preparing for the event, Dataphyte secured the collaboration of four other leading Civil Society Organisations who work around the data space. These organisations were Premium Times Center for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), Public and Private Development Center Development (PPDC), Connected Development (CODE), International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR). Although the collaboration was non-financial, resources from these organisations facilitated different sessions during the event. 

Lectures were given by representatives from the Premium Times Center for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), Public and Private Development Center Development (PPDC), Connected Development (CODE), International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) and Dataphyte.

The venue of the meeting was given to Dataphyte freely by the Development Research and Projects Centre. DRPC also provided the tea, coffee and cookies that kept the participants active all day. 

Transparency, accountability and freedom of information in Nigeria: Open Data Day 2020 report

- April 10, 2020 in Nigeria, Open Data Day, Open Data Day 2020

On Saturday 7th March 2020, the tenth Open Data Day took place with people around the world organising over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. Thanks to generous support from key funders, the Open Knowledge Foundation was able to support the running of more than 60 of these events via our mini-grants scheme This blogpost is a report by Muazu Alhaji Modu from Spotlight for Transparency and Accountability Initiative in Nigeria who received funding from Hivos to host an event to increase understanding of and access to local budget data. Spotlight for Transparency and Accountability Initiative celebrates Open Data Day 2020 Despite the fact that Yobe State is one of the states in the north-east region of Nigeria most devastated by the Boko Haram insurgency for over a decade now, it is still a frontrunner in the open data and governance space in the region and the country at large. Aside from national mechanisms for promoting open data such as the Open Government Partnership and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2011, the Yobe State government has put in place numerous commitments to open data to enhance access to data as well as strengthening accountability and transparency. These include: the enactment of public financial management law; public procurement law; fiscal responsibility law; and the use of the public financial management website to ensure that the state follows International Public Sector Accounting Standards and uses the Open Contracting Data Standard. However despite all these laws and mechanisms put in place, citizen knowledge of open data, governance and public finance management is inadequate in the state. 60 participants were selected from 365 young people and civil society members who applied to join our Open Data Day capacity-building workshop to empower them with a basic understanding of open data and public financial management to demand for accountability and increase access to information. The workshop kicked off by tracing the origins of the FOIA. Prior to this event, participants were asked if they had knowledge of the FOIA and how they can leverage the legal framework to ask policy makers for information and demand transparency and accountability but many reported that they were unaware of the powers of the act. The participants got to know how open data can strengthen democratic governance and how democracy gave birth to the FOIA in Nigeria because there was no provision for citizens to access information or ask how government spent monies. The advent of democracy has done away with the secrecy clauses prohibiting the disclosure of information and the facilitator explained in clear terms that there is a law backing freedom of information where citizens can write formally to ministries, departments and agencies to be given data for them not only to track government spending also other information they need to know.   Spotlight for Transparency and Accountability Initiative celebrates Open Data Day 2020 Muhammad Bukar then lead a session on budget processes and budget analysis. The budget cycle including budget planning, enactment, execution, oversight and how to access budget and other public financial documents was intensively discussed and the participants were amazed as to how the budget cycle works. Aisha Umar Farouq followed this by taking participants through how citizens can independently track government spending using the Follow The Money model. Finally, Dr. Hauwa made a mind-boggling presentation on how big data can help us move Nigeria as a nation and improve the development of the information age. Moreover, she called on those youths who graced the occasion to actively participate in meetings held by policy makers to ensure their needs and aspirations are well captured in the state’s policy direction so they are not left out. She also called on budding young people to pay more attention and seek more knowledge on issues surrounding governance, transparency and accountability to fight the scourge of high-level corruption that is threatening to bring Nigeria to its knees.  The participants left with cheers and thanks for the gathering that gave them much insight on contemporary issues which they wouldn’t have known if not for the Open Data Day event hosted by Spotlight for Transparency and Accountability with support from the Open Knowledge Foundation.

Freedom of information and open contracting in Nigeria: Open Data Day 2020 report

- April 6, 2020 in Nigeria, Open Contracting, Open Data Day, Open Data Day 2020

On Saturday 7th March 2020, the tenth Open Data Day took place with people around the world organising over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. Thanks to generous support from key funders, the Open Knowledge Foundation was able to support the running of more than 60 of these events via our mini-grants scheme This blogspot is a report by Kingsley Agu from FollowTheMoney Kaduna in Nigeria who received funding from Hivos to contracting data including responses to FOI letters and on the spot assessment of projects and infrastructures across communities in Kaduna state.
Participants at Follow the Money Kaduna's Open Data Day 2020 event

Participants at Follow the Money Kaduna’s Open Data Day 2020 event

Follow The Money Kaduna’s Open Data Day event featured participants from various organisations and the Ministry of Education in Kaduna state. It was a moment for the participants to get to network as they introduced themselves individually stating in brief their professional background and other areas of expertise. Connected Development Project Officer Zaliha Lawal (on behalf of Hamzat Lawal, the Chief Executive of Follow The Money) welcomed everyone and presented the agenda. The Ministry of Education, Kaduna state –  ably represented by Helen Kafoi – then gave opening remarks and presented the goodwill message from the Ministry to the participants. It was now time to get into the event proper as I gave an overview of open data, open contracting, Freedom of Information and the celebration of Open Data Day. I explained that the event would focus on the projects awarded by the Ministry of Education in 2019 as well as reports of on-the-spot assessments of some of these projects before laying out the steps Follow the Money used to access information on public government projects around Kaduna state. FollowTheMoney Kaduna Chapter wrote a Freedom of Information (FOI) request letter to the Ministry of Education on the details of the contracts awarded by the Ministry in 2019. The Ministry responded and made the requested details available. A total of 72 projects ranging from building of schools, offices and school fence to the renovation of existing schools, provision of internet facilities and supplies of classroom furniture across the 23 local government areas in Kaduna state and worth over 10 billion Naira were awarded by the Ministry of Education in Kaduna state in 2019. Next was the presentation of on-the-spot assessments of some of these projects by Follow The Money champions in Kaduna. Zaliha Lawal introduced the champions and what they do for FollowTheMoney Kaduna, they were then invited to present their respective status report on the projects they are tracking in their local communities. Ibrahim Muhammad Shamsudeen presented the status of the following project: Expansion and Rehabilitation of Wall Fence in LEA Ibadan Stree – Sabon Gari, Zaria whose status was found out that there is no such school at the stated location; and Construction of Perimeter Fence for LGEA Kufaina – Sabon Gari, Zaria worth N79,947,250.00 which is yet to be completed. Ibrahim went a step further to advocate for the rehabilitation of a dilapidated school LGEA Anguwan Makeri Primary School in Sabon Gari, Zaria which was not included in the list of projects. Before the FTM champion intervened, the school was in a dilapidated state with broken roofs, no desks, no access to WASH facilities and the number of out-of-school children was twice the number of the present students then. After the advocacy campaign, it caught the attention of the House of Assembly member representing the local government area who promptly acted on it and the school is currently being renovated. Abubakar Mohammed Yayanko presented the status of the following project: Construction of Wall Buildings GJSS Asmau Makarfi – Kaduna North, Kaduna worth N66,000,000 which has reached an advanced stage of completion as the last visit on the 5th of March 2020; Construction of Cubide Toilets GGSS Kawo – Kaduna North, Kaduna where only 10% of the planned work has been completed despite releases from government and the project deadline having passed. Helen from the Ministry of Education responded and explained that some contractors do collect money meant for education projects and divert them to another project and that the ministry has taken the issue seriously and will hold them accountable. Mohammed Bayero Yayandi presented the status of the following project: Repair/Renovation and Wall Fencing of Arc. Namadi Sambo GSS Kabala West – Kaduna South, Kaduna worth N102,489,381.75 and the current status showed that only one block of the classroom is left uncompleted. Abdullahi Abubakar Ladan presented the status of the following projects: Construction of Wall Fence LEA Gwari Road – Kaduna North, Kaduna. The N26,432,072.00 project was awarded for the purpose of fencing a single school and the ministry marked the project as completed in 2019. Ladan found out that it was actually three schools that are in that same compound and they collectively lack access to WASH, wheelchair accessible entrance, slab for crossing drainage and there is also a block of abandoned toilets. On the Rehabilitation of School Building GSS Kigo Road – Kaduna North, Kaduna, Ladan stated that on his last visit to the school on the 5th of March 2020, the project was about 95% complete and that from what he saw, the implementation of the N258,949,843.70 project is satisfactory. Abdullahi Bala Muhammad presented the status of the Rehabilitation of Administrative Block Rimi College Unguwan Rimi – Kaduna North, Kaduna project worth N116,361,078.00. As at October 2019, it was discovered that there were no funds released, and at the moment, the project is at only a 35% completion state.
Participants at Follow the Money Kaduna's Open Data Day 2020 event

Participants at Follow the Money Kaduna’s Open Data Day 2020 event

The event also featured a panel discussion moderated by Zaliha Lawal on education financing and the free education policy in Kaduna state. The panelists responded to numerous questions with Helen from the Ministry of Education promising to take up the issues raised with the implementation of the projects. Mr. Martins Danjuma took the participants via accessing data through various open contracting portals including budeshi.ng/kadippa, kadppa.kdsg.gov.ng, kdsg.gov.ng and bpp.gov.ng. He also mentioned the Kaduna state government toll-free phone line. Giving the closing remarks, I thanked all the participants for actively participating in the event. The participants all went home better informed with data that they could use in their respective communities.

International Open Data Day celebrated in Nigeria

- March 22, 2019 in Follow the Money, Nigeria, Open Contracting, Open Data Day, open data day 2019

This report is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2019. On Saturday 2nd March, groups from around the world organised over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. BudgIT Foundation and Connected Development (CODE) received funding through the mini-grant scheme by Hivos / Open Contracting Partnership, to organise events under the Follow public money flows theme. This is a joint report produced by Ayomide Faleye and Yakubu Titus Tukurah: their biographies are included at the bottom of this post.

Open Data Day with BudgIT, Nigeria

When the message to host a community event celebrating the International Open Data Day was put out to the community members of Yaba Local Council Development Area, we didn’t expect the turnout that graced the event. For a nation whose government takes pride in its ability to keep citizens in the dark about government activities, the huge response was a breath of fresh air.

Uadamen and Ayomide before the event

Over fifty people attended the event, among which were students, health workers, traders, engineers, clergymen, and community leaders. The event kicked off with Ayomide Faleye defining open data, stating its importance in the development of any economy and how citizens can use it as a tool to demand accountability and transparency from their government.  She explained what civic duties are and tracking how public funds are used is an important civic duty. She also asked the participants for their perception of Open Data to which a participant answered that it meant data which has been processed for public consumption. Ayomide took participants through how citizens can have access to the national and state budgets and be aware of funds allocated to community projects. Emphasizing on the need for citizens to demand transparency from the government during the execution of community projects, she also stated that it is the duty of journalists to criticize, peruse and ask questions about government policies, ensuring every action is in the best interest of the citizens.
Open data should be a tool used by citizens to drive societal change.  As a citizen, how many times have you asked questions? How many changes have you initiated?

Questions

Uadamen Ilevbaoje, Tracka Project manager handled the next session. He began by explaining how Tracka developed as an offshoot of BudgIT which monitors government budget and its intricacies. Tracka goes to communities, share budget pamphlets to citizens to enlighten them about government’s plans for their community while enlightening them on how to demand accountability and transparency from their representatives to ensure excellent service delivery. He showed the participants several projects in different states and their current statuses and also gave instances where Tracka intervened and the results were successful. An example was the renovation of a healthcare centre in Sokoto which was nominated for 34 million naira but nothing was done and patients were sleeping on bare floor without mattresses. Tracka discovered the discrepancy, alerted the public about it and the health care centre was renovated. Ayomide facilitated the Question and Answer session, the most interesting and interactive session. Participants asked several questions some of which are;
  • Are security measures being put in place to protect citizens who decide to criticize or demand accountability from their representatives?
  • where do we find the data to track how public funds are spent?
Participants made observations around the state of the nation and how although it is a long shot, expressed their willingness to contribute their quota to ensure the nation is back on track. Some said their optimism is on the basis of the work done by that organization like Tracka and BudgIT and also, events such as this prove that they are not alone in the fight for a new nation and this gives a strengthened hope for Nigeria’s prospects. The event was brought to a close after the Q&A session. A major takeaway from the event is the discovery of citizen readiness to hold elected officials accountable. Before the programme commenced, the majority of attendees were unaware of steps to take in calling for accountability while some feared for their safety. At the end of the programme, participants were eager to discuss with the convener and speaker, wanting to know more, speaking about their experiences and commending the convener for a job well done. The audience also clamoured for the continuation of the event in the community. This will empower them to be better advocates for a more open and transparent government. Group photographs were taken to capture the highlights of a day well-spent. The event was also captured in the media.

Open Data Day with Connected Development [CODE], Nigeria

The open and accessible data revolution is underway. Citizens no longer want to be passive recipients of legislation that is considered ‘inflicted’ upon them but rather, seek constructive ways to engagecontribute-use the formation of public policy as a means to enhance their civic responsibilities in ensuring that people in marginalized communities are empowered. However, for this to happen, any engagement needs to orientate around evidence that is held up by facts draw out from open sources of big data. Consequentially, public engagement is reshaping how knowledge is developed, shared and used by citizens and stakeholder communities.   The Open Data Day on March 2nd, 2019 was hosted by Titus of Connected Development [CODE] – Follow The Money Initiative in FCT Abuja Nigeria with about over 50 participants that attended the event. The agenda is to show the benefits of open data and encourage the adoption of open data policies in government, business, and civil society. The event brought together data enthusiasts among social workers, journalists, academics, government officials, youth, students, civil society organizations, community-based organizations and activists from all over the city of Abuja. They learned and shared skills around using data to enhance their activities in providing solutions to burning issues affecting people in rural communities. The event was focused on why government and individuals should open up their data for good governance and transparency with notable speakers and facilitators: Mukhtar Halilu (Asst. Community Engagement FollowTheMoney), Frank (Data Analyst- Data Lead Africa), Muhammed (Reboot), Jennifer Faeren (Journalist), and the host Yakubu Titus Tukurah (Data Visualizer- FollowTheMoney).

Participant asking question during the event

The concepts of “accountability” and “transparency” provide insight in understanding how open data requirements and expectations are achieved in different circumstances and the goal of open data has been to open all non-personal and non-commercial data, especially data collected and processed by government organizations. Mukhtar, a community engager, stated that one of the most notable advantages of open data is that making government data transparent increases public trust in government and civil servants, and also allows citizens to hold the government officials accountable for good governance. Frank, a data analyst from Data Lead Africa took a session on why government and individuals should open up their data and gave insight that, one of the key purposes of open data platforms is to promote access to government data and encourage development of creative tools and applications to engage and serve the wider community through the visualization of patterns and relationships. He added that in doing so, enabling civic engagement by providing an opportunity for citizens, public sector organizations, businesses, and independent developers to use a systematically-updated stream of open data is being encouraged.  

Biographies

Ayomide Faleye is a Research Analyst, and Program manager for Open Government Partnership Programs at BudgIT. She is the National Coordinator, Open Alliance Nigeria, a group of Civil Society Organisations seeking to promote good governance in Nigeria and ensure that it derives maximum benefit from openness and transparency needed for inclusive development and efficient service delivery. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in History and Strategic Studies at the University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos, Nigeria. Since joining BudgIT in 2015, a civic startup backed by Gates Foundation, Omidyar Network, McArthur, she has been handling projects that advocates for transparency and accountability around government fiscal policy, Open Data, and governance. She is a lover of children and Football. Yakubu Titus Tukurah is a Campaigner and Researcher. A diploma holder in Surveying and Geo-informatics with more than 3 years experience in data visualization. Currently volunteering for United Nation Foundation, Amnesty International, One Campaign, Youth-hub Africa, and a Yali Fellow. Born and raised in Kaduna Nigeria with a burning desire and passion to drive change to marginalized communities ensuring their voices are heard.

Leveraging open data for healthier communities in Africa

- March 15, 2019 in equal development, Nigeria, Open Data Day, open data day 2019, zambia

On Open Data Day 2019, groups from around the world organised over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. The Women Economic and Leadership Transformation Initiative (WELTI) and Safety First for Girls Outreach Foundation (SAFIGI) received funding through our mini-grant scheme by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom, to organise events under the Equal Development theme. The event report below was written by Ifeoma Okonji and Hadassah Louis: their biographies are included at the bottom of this post. We are living in times where the spotlight is on women. Gender equality and equal development is a running theme, however, this is not translated in the daily lives of women. The mantra has to be translated to actionable steps if we are to achieve SDG5 by 2030. Open Data is the best defense for women because data does not discriminate, especially when it accessible to and produced by underserved communities.

Women take the lead

Two female led and focused organizations in the Africa region leveraged Open Data Day 2019 to showcase how Open Data is crucial to improving the socio-economic conditions of women in developing communities. Women Economic and Leadership Transformation Initiative (WELTI) in Nigeria and Safety First for Girls Outreach Foundation (SAFIGI) in Zambia, both use open data as a response tool on issues affecting their respective communities. WELTI leads open data initiatives in Nigeria by ensuring that the young women whose lives are being impacted, leverage technology to make their businesses thrive, drive leadership and also in their educational life as such opportunities isn’t inherent in the normal school curriculum and have access to data that can help them in their daily lives. This involves leading stakeholder engagement strategies to drive this. SAFIGI taps into the power of working open, putting young women in leadership positions, and strategic collaboration to pursue research, create safety courses, and execute social campaigns in order to improve safety for girls. Open data often goes hand in hand with open working cultures and open business practices. While this culture lends itself to diversity, it is crucial that those who are involved in Open data take on a bottom up and inclusive approach so that marginalized communities do not continue to be sidelined in research spaces.

Cancer, data and female health

WELTI’s Open Data day was themed Cancer, Data and Female Health. In partnership with CEAFON Nigeria, an organization of doctors who are spreading awareness on cancer, the Women Economic and Leadership Transformation Initiative hosted the event at Girls Senior Academy Secondary School, Simpson Street, in Lagos. The ODD Nigeria event started by beneficiaries being asked what they understood by open data and what sort of data they look for when trying to access data. Young Nigeria women were shown statistics, preventive measures and care in regards to cancer. In the course of the training, they were shown how information can be sought openly. This included pre and post surveys regarding cancer,data and female health and what open sources are available to them to get information. We had 45% of these young women knowing what Cancer,Data and Female Health was all about and after the program, we had a 70% increase in awareness and knowledge and that was quite an impact. This included over a hundred female beneficiaries who were also exposed to sites and data collection/retrieval regarding the subject matter. At the clinical/population and research data level, opening up medical data, sharing and linking large healthcare datasets enables semantically to relate and enrich data on symptoms, diseases, diagnosis, treatments, and prescriptions offering the potential for improvements in care for individuals and populations as well as more efficient semantic access to the evidence base.

Safer communities with open data

SAFIGI Outreach Foundation in Lusaka, Zambia hosted Open Data Day with a goal to increase understanding on the benefits of Open Data in creating safer grassroots communities. The event was hosted at Global Platform in Lusaka. 80% of the attendees were female, and prior to the event 1 in 10 did not understand Open Data, and 40% of participants only had a rough idea about Open Data. The Open Data Day event by SAFIGI was structured to respond to this gap and share strategies which the participants could use to improve and solve issues in their community through Open Data. In 2019, Safety First for Girls is working on a campaign called Equality Culture in which they are engaging community members to address both positive and negative aspects of tradition in line with gender equality. This was founded on the youth led organizations Open research titled the Safety Report paper; https://goo.gl/4Ru6b7 in which they studied how culture, traditions and beliefs help maintain the status quo and inequality. Through this campaign, SAFIGI is using open data to improve safety conditions of girls in local communities through safety education, research, and advocacy. Open Data Day hosted by SAFIGI in Lusaka highlighted the gap in comprehensive research about women from grassroots communities. UN Online Volunteers who worked on the Open Research and Data Analysis through SAFIGI were part of a panel at the event to showcase a good example of how open data can bring positive change by sharing SAFIGI Foundations Open Data Analysis which we is accessible here:- https://goo.gl/RHCGec

An equal future is possible with open data

In a continent like Africa, rigged with strong patriarchal systems which create communities rife with gender inequality, open data initiatives can be a tool to enable for socio-economic empowerment of women. The strides made by SAFIGI and WELTI to use Open Data and open practices for equal development is creating communities within the continent that addresses inequality with evidence-based approaches. While Open data is gender neutral, a gendered approach is necessary for equal development in underserved and developing communities. This can only be accomplished when women take the lead in analysing core issues affecting their communities, sharing this through open data and using best practices to solve gender inequality. The capacity strengthening of female-led initiatives creates a ripple effect in the movement for a more equal world in which women are safer, healthier, and economically sound which emphasises on the human dignity of marginalized girls and in turn promotes their human rights. Open Data Day was more than just a celebration, it is a milestone toward creating a more equal world through data, one girl at a time.  

Biographies

Ifeoma Okonji is a Social entrepreneur, a Customer experience Professional with over ten years’ experience in both the profit and non-profit sector. She is an astute young lady who has a passion to empower young women, and also has a knack for smart work, dedication and teamwork. She is the founder of Women Economic and Leadership Transformation Initiative (WELTI) a non-profit that advocates for equality for young women in leadership, technology, health and education. She is also a Mozilla Open leader, an associate member of Women in Management, business and public service (WIMBIZ),an open knowledge thought leader/advocate and a member of Global giving International. She has a propensity to travel, sustain useful acquaintances and loves music and dancing. Hadassah Louis is a youth leader passionate about gender, digital literacy, and grassroots advocacy. She is founder of the SAFIGI Outreach Foundation and President of Digital Grassroots. She is also a 2019 IFF Community Development fellow, a 2019 Engineers Without Borders Canada Kumvana fellow, a Mozilla Open Leader and expert, an Internet Society 2017 Youth@IGF fellow , an open knowledge advocate, and a champion for capacity building of youth and girls. Hadassah graduated summa cum laude in multimedia journalism, and is a contributor on Impakter.com and Africa.com. She is a Woman Deliver Scholarship recipient 2019. Learn more about her work on www.hadassahlouis.com

Celebrating Open Data Day 2018 in Nigeria

- April 23, 2018 in Follow the Money, Nigeria, Open Data Day, open data day 2018

This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2018. On Saturday 3 March, groups from around the world organised over 400 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 45 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by Hivos, SPARC, Mapbox, the Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The events in this blog were supported through the mini-grants scheme under the Follow the Money theme. The concept of open data is growing rapidly across borders and Nigeria isn’t left out of this budding movement. Paradigm Leadership Support Initiative (PLSI) and OrderPaper Nigeria joined the global open data community to celebrate Open Data Day 2018 and further contributed to the discourse on why certain data should be publicly available in both human and machine-readable formats and accessible without any constraint whatsoever. PLSI’s local event which held at LPI_Hub located within University of Ibadan – Nigeria’s premiere University focused on promoting use of open data in tracking audited funds for developmental projects in Nigerian local communities to foster public accountability and improved service delivery. Likewise, OrderPaper which had developed a Mobile App “ConsTrack” to track constituency projects equally convened a townhall to celebrate the day. Its event was however targeted at training community youths and raising them to become FollowtheFunds Grassroots Champions (FGCs) to track, monitor and report on constituency projects undertaken by members of the National Assembly representing the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

Who Attended?

PLSI assembled various stakeholders in the open data community including data analysts, developers, creative artists, University students, Corps members and other lovers of data. 26 participants attended the event with 56% being males and 44% females. PLSI’s mentor and partner organization – BudgIT was equally represented at the event by two members of its research team – Olaniyi Olaleye and Thaddeus Jolaiyemi. Olaniyi delivered a stunning presentation on “Budget Access – Contracting and Audit” to take participants through the transit mechanism of data from budget to contracting and audit. PLSI’s Executive Director – Olusegun Elemo equally presented on the “Concept of Open Data” as well as a “Walk-Through session on Citizen Participatory Audit”. Also, OrderPaper had 14 participants drawn from various area councils that make up the FCT who were trained on the use of data and technology to interrogate constituency projects in a bid to ensure inclusiveness, transparency and accountability. It is instructive that before the event, 78.5% of the participants rated government presence (generally) in terms of infrastructure and service delivery in their respective communities below average. Specific to constituency projects, many of the participants said implementation was “abysmal” as several communities like Igu in Bwari Area council was revealed to be without a good road.

Participants at the OrderPaper Nigeria Open Data Day 2018

Breakout Session

PLSI organized a datathon exercise for participants to relate directly with audit data of the Federal Government of Nigeria. Three groups worked to analyze and mine raw data as contained in 2013, 2014 and 2015 audit reports. The groups selected three thematic areas to include water, education and health. All three groups went on to visualize their data using creative tools and subsequently presented their findings to the larger audience.

Lessons and Challenges

Despite the rapid growth of Open Data concept in Nigeria, several individuals including key stakeholders in the Open Data space learnt about use of open data and its impact on community development for the first time at the two events. This goes to show the need to continually grow the open data community in Nigeria. PLSI had firsthand view of how unfamiliar participants felt to the Open Data space. Even though 15% were conversant with open data concept, 85% had no clue whatsoever on the importance and usage of Open Data or audit data to track public spending and demand accountability. Many were amazed in the end at how simple the subject is to understand and how critical Open Data is to improving service delivery in Nigeria. Participants were equally introduced to Value for Money – a platform to track, report and act on audited developmental projects abandoned, unexecuted or poorly executed in their communities. Similarly, at OrderPaper’s event, only 78% of the participants knew who the Senator for the FCT is while 72% knew their House of Representatives members. In a shocking revelation, none of the participants knew the amount of money budgeted for constituency projects in two federal constituencies and senatorial districts that make up the territory. It was therefore a great gain that the town hall achieved the impartation of knowledge about who the representatives are; how much was budgeted for constituency projects in the 2016 national appropriation act; and how much was released by government for the execution of the projects. These findings greatly stimulated the interest of the participants in engaging the ConsTrack App to track and report on projects.

Moving Forward

To sustain a growing community of Open Data users, PLSI at its event commissioned three persons as U.I. Open Data Community Leaders who will continue to work very closely with the organization to promote Open Data usage in the University. PLSI and OrderPaper are grateful to Open Knowledge International and Hivos Global for providing the mini-grant that made the two events a success.

Women Economic and Leadership Transformation Initiative Open Data Event 2018

- April 18, 2018 in development, Nigeria, Open Data Day, open data day 2018

This blog has been reposted from debwritesblog This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2018. On Saturday 3 March, groups from around the world organised over 400 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 45 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by Hivos, SPARC, Mapbox, the Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The event in this blog was supported through the mini-grants scheme under the Equal Development theme. We are living in times where it seems very obvious to want certain situations. One of them is the presence of women in all professional fields. Who would not agree that such representation should be fair and equal with respect to the opposite gender? Perhaps nobody would oppose it in public, but the reality is different. Women are not balanced in all professional environments, and more and more cases are reported that reflect the way they are rewarded for their work is not fair. When it comes to open data it is a different situation. It does not take gender into consideration: instead it serves as an empowerment tool for any individual who is interested in making use of it.

Open data

Open data – data anyone can access, use or share – is transformative infrastructure for a digital economy that is consistently innovating and bringing the benefits of the Web to society. It often goes hand in hand with open working cultures and open business practices. While this culture lends itself to diversity, it is important that those who are involved in open data make sure it addresses everyone’s needs. It is therefore encouraging to see that open data initiatives in African countries are being led by women. From heading up technical teams to leading stakeholder engagement strategies, these leaders are driving open data across the continent.

The Women Economic and Leadership Transformation Initiative (WELTI) in partnership with The Hewlett Foundation, Open Knowledge International and SPARC organized a day event to celebrate Open data day 2018 on the 3rd March 2018 at the Fountain Heights SecondarySchool, Surulere where the speakers spoke on “Understanding gender inequality  through open  data /knowledge”  and “The role of data and business in a woman’s world” respectively to 70 young women, young men and some teachers.

Key message shared

One of the female speakers noted that the proportion of women using the internet is 12% and that the percentage of women who have access to the internet is 50% lesser to that of the men. In her opinion, advocacy on gender inequality pertaining to the usage of data can be achieved through: 1. Proper orientation. People need to be enlightened on the use of data and it’s far reaching impact in the society. 2. E-learning centers should increase so that more women can gain access to the internet especially in rural areas.

It was also established that data can go a long way in helping one’s business through the use of the internet. She stressed that the internet has made business transactions easier and better unlike the olden days. The following can be accessed through the use of data:

1. Information gathering and study

With data, one can gather meaningful information about a particular business she is into.

2. Globalization

The spread of one’s business to far and near locations without the need of physical contact or a business card which allows your brand to be known abroad.

3. Online Courses

It aids easy flow in education especially for those who don’t have the time to attend physical classes or lecture. Through the internet and the use of data ultimately, one can study professional courses and be awarded a degree.

4. Payment gateway and online transactions

It aids easy flow of payments for service rendered, unlike the olden days where you have to go pay physically to the owner no matter the distance but with the use of data, one can carry out a stress free transaction even without knowing the person she is transacting with.

We had a pre and post evaluation to get a sense of what the young women felt about open data. The results showed that most women who use data do not necessarily check for topics regarding women or check for information that has to do with making businesses thrive. Hence, WELTI would keep advocating for women to leverage technology especially through her flagship program The Business Meets Technology, as this is another way of them getting access to data that would be beneficial to them. WELTI believes that with proper access to data, women are better able to understand what their rights are and work towards being the best they can be.  

About WELTI

Women Economic and Leadership Transformation Initiative WELTI (Women Economic and Leadership Transformation Initiative) is a three year old registered not for profit organization in Nigeria headquartered in Lagos focused on women. We reach out to young women between ages 14-30 on our three pillars of Leadership, Economic and Health (HIV/AIDS and Female general health awareness). The intention is to enable the young women, through our programs, to be CORE (Competent, Organizationally skilled, Responsible and Ethical) women. The women are taught to own their craft and be leaders in their own right irrespective of their gender. We are well aware that we are in a society where gender parity is yet to be achieved so we are doing the best we can as an organization to sensitize the younger women because we are positive that the time is now and change is imminent. In these few years of her existence, WELTI has through her programs, been able to impact, engage, encourage, equip and empower over 1500 young women to get involved in programs that would help them, hone their skills, own their craft and be leaders in their own right. This we have been able to do by working closely with about 50 volunteers. Kindly follow us on TwitterInstagram and Facebook. For more Information, also visit our website WELTI.