Day 4: Responsible Data for Children Synthesizes Major Findings from the First Two Studios

This blog by Andrew J. Zahuranec and Sara Marcucci was originally published on the Responsible Data for Children blog site. Learn more about The GovLab’s Responsible Data for Children initiative at rd4c.org.

LEFT: Mr. Kato Freeman from the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development provides opening remarks during Studio 1 in Kampala. RIGHT: Participants deliberate during Studio 2 in Isingiro.

On 19 and 21 September, 2022, the Responsible Data for Children team hosted studios in Uganda. These meetings sought input from national officials and local service providers into their attitude toward the data systems in Uganda affecting child refugee mental health and psychosocial services.

Using a data lifecycle approach — a model that tracks the development of a data initiative from planning through collection, processing, sharing, analyzing, and use of data — participants across the two days described what they saw as the major opportunities and challenges affecting Uganda’s data systems. Guided by the RD4C Principles, they described the various ways that data did and did not support the well-being of child refugees.

On Thursday, the team reflected on these meetings in coordination with UNICEF and UNHCR Uganda. After reviewing what the different participants focused on, the team identified several takeaways spanning the data lifecycle. However, four short-term priorities stood out among the rest:

  • Streamlined Decision-Making: Participants indicated they would benefit from a map of who takes decisions on what to promote a more unified approach to the mental health and psychosocial needs of children. Without this map, participants found it difficult to work with one another or to even know who to contact. In the words of one participant, “it can take a lot of coordination to get all of us organizations together.”
  • The Need for a Taxonomy for MHPSS Data: Several participants expressed concerns that data is often cataloged differently by different organizations and that it has varying levels of quality, which could make analyses difficult. One participant noted, “When we talk about processes and standards […] most organizations work in different silos where data is only collected to donor requirements.”
  • The Value of a Data Catalog and Directory: Organizations could benefit from better understanding who is collecting what data, when, and for what purposes (as well as the leaders responsible) to avoid duplication and re-traumatizing children. The current lack of awareness meant that organizations often engaged in duplicative projects that could lead to refugee children having to provide the same data multiple times.
  • Responsible Data Governance: Finally, the team noted one issue that did not come up explicitly in the discussions: data governance. There are ways to manage risks when using MHPSS data for refugee children by developing agreements for data sharing, guaranteeing group consent and participation, expanding protections, and addressing data biases. Trying to identify what is needed to promote the rights and protection of child refugees is essential so that participants don’t, as in the words of one participant, “collect data as much as possible for whatever purpose [I need].”

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These are only a few of the reflections that emerged from the first two studios. Tomorrow, we’ll share reflections on how participants used these takeaways in the final studio to generate ideas that can improve mental health and psychosocial service data systems in Uganda. Stay tuned for these insights and contact us at rd4c@thegovlab.org for more information.

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