Thematic Forum: Opportunities for an Integrated, Data-Driven, and Multi-Stakeholder Approach to Implementing and Monitoring SDG 5

“Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”

Today the gender equality multi-stakeholder forum kicks off in Nairobi, Kenya, convened by CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation (DataShift), The African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) and the SDGs Kenya Forum.

The forum will explore opportunities for delivering an integrated, data-driven, multi-stakeholder approach to implementing and monitoring SDG 5, “Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls”, as well as other gender related targets and indicators in other SDGs in Kenya.

Over 50 stakeholders from government, private sector, media, civil society; including women’s rights organisations, development partners, academia, researchers, media, and technology enthusiasts will come together to explore practical mechanisms for working together while implementing their core mandates.

The aim of the forum:

  • Raise awareness on SDG 5 and brainstorm on a framework for civil society and other stakeholders to formally engage with government in the formulation, implementation, and monitoring of progress,
  • Brainstorm on the value of drawing on multiple sources of data, including citizen-generated data, for a data-driven implementation, and monitoring of progress on SDG 5,
    Facilitate engagement between civil society, other stakeholders, and government on gender equality in Kenya in order to explore synergies and foster collaborations on SDG 5.
  • It also features highly interactive roundtable discussions, facilitating knowledge and experience sharing from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC), and the Department of Gender (Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs), among others.

Despite a progressive rights-based constitution, women in Kenya still face challenges including the ability to participate effectively in decision-making and leadership. Research by UN Women indicates that over 80% of Kenyan women are engaged in smallholder farming, only 1% own land in their own right, access less than 10% of available credit, and less than 1% of agriculture credit. Female poverty is exacerbated by gender-based violence; including sexual violence, rape, physical violence and sexual harassment. Women’s empowerment is hindered by polygamy, early marriage and harmful cultural and traditional practices such as female genital cutting. Traditional practices governing inheritance, acquisition of land and benefits accruing to land produce continue to favour men.

The absence of accurate, credible, timely, and gender disaggregated data and general lack of awareness on the goals and their implications inhibits progress. Technical expertise is also limited on the “how-to,” especially in mainstreaming in formal government programmes. Furthermore, where data or information exists; it’s disparate, trapped in silos by civil society, government, academia, development partners, private sector, and researchers, among others. A recent report by Data2x, found no data especially on aspects of the lives of women and girls that are not highly valued by society. Unpaid work in home production, time spent fetching fuel and carrying water, housework, childcare and eldercare – all activities carried out mostly by women and girls, are part of a ‘care economy’ that society undervalues and, therefore, does not count in official statistics.

This forum is the culmination of a two-day capacity-building workshop for civil society on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which focused on women’s rights, gender equality and global and regional commitments. These two events between civil society, other stakeholders, and government on gender equality, offers an opportunity to synergise efforts and foster collaborations on SDG 5 and other gender related targets and indicators in Kenya.

Watch this space for the report emerging from the forum discussions, exchanges, and ideas; including a joint civil society communique and blog post to be shared widely. These will be fed into local and international forums and workshops to facilitate further learning.

Here’s a look at the full Concept Note – SDGs Gender Equality Thematic Forum 12-7-16.

Call for Technical Campaign Experts

From August – October 2016, DataShift Direct Support Phase II (DSII) will focus on supporting organisations to collect, manage, analyse and disseminate citizen-generated data (CGD) with the goal of creating effective gender-related campaigns in four priority countries: Argentina, Kenya, Nepal and Tanzania. DSII will include a specific training on how to use CGD for campaigns. The trainings support local civil society organisations to design a CGD campaign to advocate for progress on gender-related issues under SDG 5 (Gender Equality) and across other thematic areas like health, education, water and sanitation, inequality, etc.

DataShift seeks a consultant to research, design, and package existing CGD Campaign Training materials and create new content, if needed, into a ‘campaigning curriculum’. This CDG Campaign Training will be a combination of a two-day in-person group training and six additional webinars or practical exercises to be viewed/completed independently. At the end of the training, the civil society organisations will have a completed campaign plan ready to implement by a strict deadline of 16 August 2016.

See the full scope of work Citizen-Generated Data Campaign Expert.

Applications must be sent to by 27 July 2016. Interviews will be held on or around 28 July 2016.


DataShift CGD Visualisations: where CGD projects are happening and how they are related to SDGs

Through our research on citizen-generated data initiatives across the world, we’ve come across a lot of initiatives on various themes. Last year, we began to gather up a list of such initiatives, and to get the most out of that information, we worked with network-movement ecologist Ari Sahagún to understand and visualise the data. Today, we’re very happy to put this set of network visualisations online for anyone to explore.

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 11.23.10 AM

Visualising connections instead of looking at a database or table format reveals different qualities in the dataset. For example, we can quickly see which Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are well represented and which aren’t, and also where there may be gaps in datasets. By adding some additional geographic metadata, we can dig a little deeper to see where certain SDGs are being more prominently addressed.

Some of our starting questions were:

  • Do particular SDGs lend themselves to being tracked or monitored with citizen-generated data?
  • From the data that we have: are initiatives in particular geographic areas working on certain themes, more than others?
  • What are common themes in the DataShift geographic focus areas (Nepal, Argentina and Tanzania/Kenya)?

To address these questions, we created three separate network visualisations:

  1. Citizen-generated data initiatives and the Sustainable Development Goals: showing which SDGs have the most initiatives addressing that particular goal.
  2. Citizen-generated data initiatives around the world: showing where those SDG-focused initiatives are operating.
  3. Citizen-generated data initiatives in the DataShift’s focus areas: showing what initiatives are in these four countries and what SDGs their work relates to.

Each of these visualisations are interactive and explorable online, and have accompanying commentary with tips on what to look for and how to use them. We also include a methodology section to highlight that this data isn’t intended to be comprehensive: it’s simply the initiatives that we’ve come across during our DataShift research.

We want this visualisation to grow in the future, too. If you’re working on a citizen-generated data initiative that you don’t see represented here, you can submit it to the database and after moderation, it will be added to the visualisation. If you’ve got feedback or questions, please get in touch with

Reflections on year one of the Learning Zone: what we found

By Tom Walker

Our last blog post explained what we produced and shared in the Learning Zone over the last year. This post will focus on what we found.

Benefits to using a broad term to connect knowledge across sectors

Why use the ‘umbrella term’ of citizen-generated data? It’s useful in that it helps us to recognise and learn from similar initiatives across different sectors – but we shouldn’t get too caught up on the labels. Everywhere, information provided directly by citizens is being shared with more ‘official’ institutions. All of these initiatives can learn a lot from each other.

Citizen-generated data is not new, but technology offers new opportunities

Civil society organisations have long collected information from citizens as part of their advocacy, as with the Concerned Citizens of Abra for Good Governance’s work over the last 20 years (see this case study). Still, digital technologies do give civil society organisations an opportunity to collect information from many more people, analyse it in new ways (as with this community land-mapping project in Indonesia), and reach more people with what they’ve found. DataShift aims to identify ways that civil society organisations can do this more often, and more effectively.  

Citizen-generated data initiatives are making a real impact

Overall, we’ve learned that citizen-generated data initiatives are making a real impact in a huge range of areas. To take just a few from the studies by DataShift’s in-country research teams:

Citizen-generated data is not just an exciting prospect: it’s already getting results.

Recognising its value and limitations

For citizen-generated data to be used to its full potential, we need to understand what it can (and can’t) do. As outlined in our Changing what Counts report, and our white paper on government-civil society collaboration, citizen-generated data is not a replacement for quantitative statistics. Rather, it complements existing data collection methods, often providing essential qualitative data about citizens’ opinions and perspectives on what’s needed.

Citizen engagement is key

Our in-country research teams found many cases where official institutions were reluctant to use data from citizen-generated data initiatives. Sometimes this was because the authorities did not see how or were unable to use data effectively. In other cases it was actively rejected after the data highlighted problems that official institutions didn’t want to acknowledge. For example, CARD was asked to stop monitoring teacher absenteeism after it highlighted inefficiencies and corruption in Kenya. This relationship doesn’t have to be adversarial, as Buenos Aires’ open data portal’s hosting of citizen-generated data shows. However, as the Argentine research team concluded, using data in this way may be just one element of a successful advocacy strategy. Citizen-generated data initiatives may help to initiate dialogue, but to get results, civil society organisations will probably need to accompany them with broader efforts to mobilise people.

Important to provide capacity and support for citizen-generated data initiatives

The research has also highlighted practical challenges. Few of the initiatives had systematic ways of checking the information that they collected. Those that did try to validate data mainly relied on time-consuming manual verification procedures like telephoning people who had submitted reports and visiting projects on the ground. We still need to know more about these challenges, as well as finding and sharing practical ways of dealing with them. The amount of data collected by different initiatives also varied dramatically – from small-scale projects focused on land rights in a particular market in Uganda, to combining data from existing government complaints systems with Twitter data. Capturing all of this diversity in one unifying framework may prove impossible.

As the East African research team point out, many of citizen-generated data initiatives are small and localised, and the data they collect can’t be generalised across the whole country or compared with other countries. In almost all cases, initiatives didn’t explicitly connect their work to larger narratives like the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – even though their work was often directly connected to them. On this evidence, there’s still a lot to be done before this data can be used to monitor the SDGs in a systematic, cross-country way.

Finally, it’s important to note that most of the initiatives that we’ve come across depended upon consistent, long-term grant funding. In a number of cases, initiatives that were producing useful, high-quality data simply stopped when their funding ran out.

All the research conducted through DataShift suggests that citizen-generated data initiatives need support so that they can continue their work, develop their methodologies and learn from other, similar organisations. In many cases, these initiatives were generating data that couldn’t be found anywhere else. Whether it was information about land-grabs, police violence or pollution data, these initiatives are making real, valuable contributions in a range of areas.

Empowering communities

Citizen-generated data is more than just a ‘type’ of data. Our in-country research teams often found that citizens felt empowered simply by participating in citizen-generated initiatives. Citizen-generated data initiatives allowed communities to articulate their needs from their own perspective and portray themselves in a more positive light, countering their feelings that their communities were misunderstood. They’re a tool for citizen engagement; for proving that institutions are listening to the public beyond just soundbites or promises; and potentially for collaboration too. There’s still more to do, however, and DataShift is ready to help support this work now and farther into the future.

Reflections on year one of the Learning Zone: what we produced

By Zara Rahman

One year ago, we began work on the research and learning aspect of DataShift. We decided to call the space for this work the Learning Zone, and we used it as a way to learn more about how citizen-generated data is being used, worldwide.

Since then, we’ve carried out and commissioned a number of research and learning outputs through the Learning Zone. We were lucky enough to work with people pushing the boundaries of citizen-generated data in their respective fields, carry out research of our own, and partner with research teams in other countries to see what we could learn, together.

Read more

Community call recording and summary: Africa’s Voices’ experiences with engaging citizens, analysing local language data, and demonstrating its credibility

On Monday 27 June, we hosted a DataShift community call with Africa’s Voices in which we discussed three common challenges that many organisations working with citizen-generated data face:

  • how to build and sustain citizen engagement,
  • how to collect and analyse local language data, without relying on translation, and
  • how to demonstrate validity and credibility of citizen data.

Below you will find a recording of their presentation, and a summary of the subsequent discussion. Throughout this week, you can ask any additional questions to Africa’s Voices via Twitter by using our #DataShift hashtag. If you are interested in sharing your experience on a DataShift community call, please contact us and consider joining our community email discussion list!

Thank you Claudia Lopes and Rainbow Wilcox for sharing what you’ve learned with us, and for being so open and responsive to questions!

Summary of the subsequent discussion:

On building capacity: Africa’s Voices works closely with partners and radio presenters to build their capacity throughout the project period. Trainings for the radio presenters, for example, are often around engagement strategies, like how to ask questions to the audience in a way that encourages participation from women and hard to reach groups. Africa’s Voices has created this toolkit for radio stations (with Internews). Sometimes the stations continue to run these kinds of interactive shows, which gives them an opportunity to test these new tools. But other times, the costs (fees for short codes for example) is just too high. 

On sharing insights back to the community: After a series of radio shows focused on the topic being researched, Africa’s Voices aims to dedicate the last show to sharing insights back to the community. Members of the community are invited to join the radio presenters for that last radio program.

On impact: Although it is too early to know what impact the UNICEF Somalia pilot project will be, UNICEF is very enthusiastic about the approach and findings, especially as it is difficult for them to gather large scale qualitative and quantitative insights on the ground in Somalia. UNICEF has already requested an additional three radio series to gather further insights about the health beliefs and behaviours of Somali people.

Factors for success:

  • Africa’s Voices pilot research consistently found a bias towards men and more educated audiencesregarding  engagement. But after trying some different approaches (working with a media partner to develop radio scripts, testing with focus groups the wording and cultural adequacy of the scripts and questions, etc), they were able to change this trend across many projects. For the UNICEF Somalia project, 44% of participants were women!
  • They also learned that it is really helpful to get the radio presenter on board from the beginning – if they are excited and engaged, the project is likely to be more successful.
  • In terms of helpful resources and support along the way, Africa’s Voices attribute much if its learning to “learning by doing”, being so closely connected to a University, and road-testing collaboration with partners through pilot studies. Africa’s Voices is interested in continuing to share their knowledge and learnings via their website (see these toolkits), blog, and communities of practice (like this DataShift community).

On finding the right partners: And finally, in terms of finding the right organisations and radio stations to work with, many times it’s the client organisation that determines these partnership, but networking opportunities is introducing Africa’s Voices to new partners. They find that testing new partnerships through small pilots is a great way to explore expectations and ways of working – to know if it’s an effective collaboration. When selecting radio stations, they research things like: the reach of the stations, and their enthusiasm in the project.


DS reportWe’re excited to launch the final of our three research reports from DataShift in each of our pilot locations. We wanted to know more about how data generated by citizens is being used in Argentina.

So, we commissioned Mariano Fressoli and Valeria Arza from El Centro de Investigaciones para la Transformación (CENIT) to explore the impact of four citizen-generated data initiatives in Argentina:

Here’s a selection of their findings to start you off:

  • Citizen-generated data initiatives in Argentina have increased the visibility of violence against minorities, land-grabs and environmental threats – issues that are often ignored by the mainstream media. Communities who submitted data from their area or learned how to collect it felt empowered by the experience, while others found that submitting data helped them recognise that their issues are part of a wider national or international issue.
  • Although one government agency was incorporating data from an initiative in its decision-making, most institutions are yet to accept and use citizen-generated data in a systematic way. The Matanza-Riachuelo Basin Authority (ACUMAR) includes and responds to data submitted to QPR about river clean-up operations, but other initiatives experienced much more limited government responses. Citizen-generated data initiatives may help to initiate a dialogue process, but organisations will probably need to complement this with other forms of mobilisation to bring about broader changes.
  • Initiatives generally lacked detailed procedures to validate information submitted by citizens. Data was usually checked in a manual, ad hoc way rather than through systematised verification procedures (by contrast, eBird uses semi-autonomous filtering systems and expert-supervised validation mechanisms). Three of the four initiatives were unable to collect large quantities of data because participation rates were too low (potentially because the initiatives were new and were still trying to reach new audiences).
  • Starting a citizen-driven data initiative is likely to become easier in future because of decreasing technology costs, and growing recognition of the importance of open data and need for data that addresses sustainable development issues. Initiatives typically had relatively low running costs and theoretically could be replicated elsewhere: for instance, eBird relies on hundreds of volunteers to gather data, but is managed by only 4 employees and 20 expert advisers working ad honorem.
  • Most initiatives depended entirely on short-term, project-by-project funds, and lacked detailed plans to expand nationally or internationally. Only one of the four had long-term funding. Citizen-generated data initiatives are often introducing practices and technologies for the first time, and will have to work hard to sustain their work and negotiate standards with reluctant institutions.

There’s much more on this in the full report! To read on:

Webinar recording and e-forum summary: How citizen-generated data can accelerate progress toward the SDGs

Watch the webinar!

On 5 May, 2016, we co-led a webinar on How citizen-generated data can accelerate progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals in partnership with the Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA) Knowledge Platform. In the webinar recording (below), Jeff Hall, freelance consultant, and Cassia Moraes, DataShift, explore the ways that citizen themselves can contribute data that accelerates the accountable delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Through case studies and practical examples, the speakers examine:

  • the complementarity of citizen-generated data and national statistical data,
  • the importance of “perception-based” data,
  • the contribution of citizen-generated data to more equitable service delivery, and
  • The practical value of citizen-generated data at the local level.  

The original webinar description and recording can be found on the GPSA Knowledge Platform.

Summary of e-forum

Following the webinar, 15+ practitioners from all over the world continued the discussion in an e-forum. The discussion was hosted from 5 to 19 May on the GPSA Knowledge Platform. The participants represented 13 countries: Bangladesh, Uganda, United Kingdom, Ecuador, Mozambique, Canada, United States, Togo, India, Senegal, South Africa, Nepal, and Palestine. These practitioners approached this topic from a variety of disciplines, including health, environment, water, disaster-response, humanitarian aid, and other public services/responsibilities. Below is a summary of the main points raised during this 2-week forum. 

Engaging citizens to contribute to data-collection

Mobile tools and platforms for engagement

In terms of mobile tools and platforms that are helpful in engaging citizens and generating data, Heather Gilberds, the Director of Insights at VOTO Mobile shared their research findings related to platforms: “We have found that voice polls and surveys improve response rates by 10x compared to SMS surveys. We also found that using voice rather than SMS increases the participation of rural people and women in surveys and polls.”

Quincy Wiele’s Quakehelpdesk team has used in-person surveys to collect data. He writes: “Each month, teams of Quakehelpdesk Community Frontline Associates (CFAs) venture into devastated communities and conduct surveys with the inhabitants. Consisting of 10-15 questions, the surveys are randomly carried out (between elders/younger people, men/women, different castes) to ensure a wide cross section of data is gathered.” For their Follow the Money initiative, Quincy’s team builds relationships with government officials so that they are able to request the necessary data for analysis. They will soon be looking into budget monitoring practices.

For both the Quakehelpdesk and Follow the Money initiatives, the teams rely on mobile phones for data collection.

  • Quakehelpdesk teams use mobile phones equipped with the Kobo toolbox platform to carry out the surveys. “The data is aggregated and provided for analysis to a team who also collects the duration of each survey along with the GPS coordinates of where the surveys were carried out to ensure data authenticity.”
  • Follow the Money teams use mobile phones equipped with the Ushahidi platform allowing the teams to take pictures and fill out reports while they are at the construction sites. “This data will be relayed in real time to the central office in Kathmandu, where it will be analysed and provided to various government departments like the National Reconstruction Commission if irregularities are identified. Data will also be visualized on a virtual platform, allowing all stakeholders to track financial flows for themselves.”

Federico Ramírez also mentioned Open Data Kit, which is free software and has very low technical and financial barriers to enable mobile data collection.

Focus groups and scorecards

Balla Fall uses a combination of focus groups (of 10-15 people) and scorecards to collect information. He explains: “They can give their point about what an ideal service looks like. They define performances and compare them to the real situation. After that, they comment scores and give solutions to gaps identified.”

Hayley Capp shared some information on the work of CARE International on their experience using Community Scorecards and a proposed “six-step model for participatory monitoring of the SDGs that will ensure that people living in developing countries can play a significant role in determining the success or failure of the new Sustainable Development Goals.” The six steps are:

  1. Preparation and training of local facilitators and community agents
  2. Community validation of indicators and scoring
  3. Service providers score on these indicators
  4. Data gathering on service-delivery outcomes by the community
  5. Interface meetings between service providers, service users and public authorities
  6. Community agents corroborate findings and follow up on the action plan

Much more information on CARE’s work, lessons-learned, and six-step model can be found in this report from March 2015.

Utilizing existing data-collection institutions

Amitabh shared an idea of utilizing the work already being done by State Audit Institutions: these institutions can be a “major channel for gathering information citizens have or can give — to be checked against government information by the audit teams who will try to sift information/verify it etc as part of their work.” But he also cautions that: “State Audit offices must change the ways they do their work before they can serve as a useful channel for citizens’ information to be harnessed for SDGs.”

Incentives for engagement

Heather also shared their research findings related to incentives: “Our research has found that external incentives (i.e. mobile airtime or financial rewards) do little to incentivize citizen participation, but that appealing to civic virtues or shared community values is more successful.”

In Nepal, the idea of citizen-monitoring is very new so it is difficult to get people engaged. Quincy shares his recommendation on how to address this: “CGD is a new concept in places like Nepal and inevitably, it is seen with skepticism by both the public and authorities. Only with robust data can you begin to change this perception. It is therefore critical that the quality of the data is beyond question.”

Advocating for the inclusion of citizen-generated data into “official” data collection initiatives

It can be difficult to build trust with the local government if they perceive you as a ‘watchdog’, or simply as an initiative that is there to challenge official data and their approach. In these situations, a third-party ally of both institutions can potentially bridge the gap. As shared in this comment, Kimbowa Richard in Uganda was able to engage local government only after they were “prompted by the donor Government of Sweden”. He added: “By the end of the Project the relationship between our work and the LVEMPII project coordination was far better than it was at the start when there was an atmosphere of resentment and suspicion (who & why the watchdog?)”

Some participants also pointed out that in many countries, government officials struggle to understand the connection between citizen-generated data and official data collection because of a lack of training on data and methodology. Providing opportunities to officials for building their capacity on data, methodology, technology, and data management systems may be a good tactic for opening up new possibilities.

Sharing common indicators between organisations

How do we balance reporting that is useful for SDGs and reporting that is useful and realistic for communities?

Jeff Hall points out an important tension: “Surely communities cannot measure everything. So who gets to choose what to measure? On the one hand, If CSOs choose what to measure across a programme area, we risk undermining some of the fundamental principles of participatory monitoring that we want to advance. On the other hand, if each community measures whatever it wants, we lose the opportunity to aggregate data, since there will be no comparability or standardization among data sets.”

Similarly, Rob Worthington asks: “How can we break down organisational silos and connect data collected by different organisations”. He goes on to share two approaches:

  1. Create a shared data registry or directory. Organisations publish their data and put it somewhere accessible. The challenge here is that each data set will most likely be different across organisations so it is difficult to compare.
  2. Organisations working on similar interventions agreeing and sharing core data collection forms. “Instead of trying to standardise higher level data like indicators, this starts at the bottom by looking at the most basic data being collected.” Data can then be combined into a common database.

Examples of civil society groups collaboratively collecting data on indicators in order to make a policy change

Kristin Antin shared an example from the DataShift report “Changing what Counts” in which WaterAid works directly with civil society to identify the data points and to collect the data. “The data and maps that WaterAid championed were used to highlight gaps and inadequacies in official data collection practices around the provision of water at district level. This directly led to new forms of data collection, which were implemented in collaboration with public institutions, community groups and other actors.”

Other topics raised

One participant asked: “How can we really ensure that we are a key part in ensuring accountability from the very beginning of this process?”

Davis Adieno responded: “You therefore have to learn which agencies are developing the indicators in your country, what is being prioritised for implementation and when, and the processes to be used. As difficult as it may seem, you want to lobby those agencies to involve you in the process, or at the very least hold stakeholder engagement forums for feedback on their final list of national targets and indicators, and gather information on the roll out process. If this doesn’t work at the very least get hold of the final list and review it with peers and write memorandum with your feedback.”

Another question posed to the forum was: “What do civil society organisations need in order to effectively use citizen-generated data?”

If we want this to be successful, we need to improve our support for civil society organisations who are interested in citizen-generated data. Dosse highlights a few ideas:

  1. Citizen must have big data training with new technology opportunities.
  2. Data collection expertise (e.g. marginalised groups, income, age, health, widows, etc)
  3. Population involvement: it means that population must be educated to SDGs advantages and the importance of data collection.
  4. Political support and open government partnership
  5. CSO data collection finance
  6. Data innovation
  7. Citizen Network can help achieving this quickly.

Community call: Africa’s Voices’ experiences with engaging citizens, analysing local language data, and demonstrating its credibility

DScommunityWe hope you’ll join us on Monday, 27 June at 9am EDT/2pm BST/4pm EAT (additional timezones) for a DataShift community call on Africa’s Voices’ experiences and lessons learned implementing citizen-generated data initiatives.

Africa’s Voices has 5 years of experience collecting and using data from African citizens via radio and SMS. Claudia Lopes and Rainbow Wilcox of Africa’s Voices identified three common challenges that many organisations working with citizen-generated data face:

  • how to build and sustain citizen engagement,
  • how to collect and analyse local language data, without relying on translation, and
  • how to demonstrate validity and credibility of citizen data.

Claudia and Rainbow will present Africa’s Voices’ experiences addressing these challenges and several case studies from their work in East Africa to illustrate what they have learned. We hope you’ll join us to learn about these experiences , ask questions, and share your own knowledge on these topics.  

How to join the call

We’ll use a platform called UberConference for this call. At the time of the event, follow these simple steps to join the call:

  1. Using Firefox or Chrome, go to
  2. Plug in your headset with a microphone (this makes the sound quality much better) and select “Mic & Speakers” from the 3 audio options. (If you have trouble using your computer for audio, you can connect using your phone by dialing 607-821-4667 or downloading the UberConference app.)
  3. If you’re up for it, please upload a picture that others will see during the meeting.

If you have any questions, or run into any problems joining the call, please contact Kristin at kristin [at]

We look forward to exploring these topics with you!


Nepal reportToday, we’re excited to launch the second DataShift research report from our three pilot locations – Nepal, Argentina and East Africa (Kenya and Tanzania).

We want to know more about how data generated by citizens is being used in Nepal: what difference is it making?

So, we commissioned Local Interventions Group to explore the impact of four different citizen-generated data initiatives:

Here’s a selection of their findings to start you off:

  • Citizen-generated data initiatives in Nepal have helped many civil society organisations and institutions share information about citizens’ needs and decide how to respond to them. More than 100 community radio stations regularly use Open Mic bulletins to develop radio content debunking rumours about earthquake relief for an estimated 1m listeners per week, while Nepal Monitor’s data on human rights-related incidents is shared with more than 850 embassies, international NGOs and other international bodies.

  • But the government only rarely uses and accepts citizen-generated data. Although Nepal’s cabinet following the April 2015 earthquake used Quake Helpdesk’s data to identify community needs after the earthquake, the call-centre that was set up by the government shut down two months later. Only Hamro Police App collects data that is being used in ongoing monitoring. This lack of use is partly because of government’s limited technical expertise, and partly because civil society organisations have failed to convince government agencies that citizen-generated data could be useful to them.

  • Although many initiatives’ goals were aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), few initiatives paid significant attention to them. Aligning their work specifically with the SDGs could help amplify their impact and allow them to reach a wider audience.

  • Citizen-generated data initiatives often physically collect data using their own staff, because low literacy levels and limited connectivity mean that technology-based data collection methods are out of reach. This can make initiatives labour-intensive, and contribute to errors when the monitors submit data that’s incorrect.

  • Verifying citizen-generated data is difficult and time-consuming in Nepal: only one of the four initiatives had an established process for verifying information. What verification did take place usually involved a staff member calling each individual citizen that had made the report, to confirm it over the phone. This process required substantial amounts of staff time, and inevitably involved errors (such as when the phone number written down was incorrect).

  • To build on existing progress, government, technology and civil society actors need to agree on the value that citizen-generated data can add and start to use that data to influence policy-making, as well as building up technical capacity in civil society organisations.

There’s much more on this in the full report! To read on: