Day 5: Responsible Data for Children Synthesizes Major Findings from the Final Studio

This blog by Andrew J. Zahuranec 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: Participants deliberate during Studio 1 in Kampala. RIGHT: Participants deliberate during Studio 2 in Isingiro.

On 23 September, 2022, the Responsible Data for Children (RD4C) initiative hosted a third and final studio in Kampala, Uganda. The studio was part of a series of studios and focus group discussions that the initiative hosted in Uganda to identify opportunities and challenges with data systems that could be acted upon to improve child refugee mental health and provide psychosocial services.

After identifying the major themes of the first two studios, the Responsible Data for Children team, supported by UNICEF and UNHCR Uganda, presented its findings in Kampala to a collection of national officials. The presentation focused on three main short-term priorities:, (1) taxonomy for MHPSS data, (2) data catalog and directory, and (3) responsible data governance.

This presentation was meant to be the prompt for an extended discussion on ways that participants could act to improve the data system affecting child refugees in the next three to six months.

Subsequently, participants deliberated on the different priorities, discussing ways to address the needs identified. After dividing into three breakout groups, the participants arrived at a few solutions.

The Need for a Taxonomy for MHPSS Data

  • Participants highlighted that a first, fundamental step was to develop a common taxonomy for MHPSS data by bringing together the already existing MHPSS refugee working groups along with practitioners in the field with direct experience with refugee children. By bringing these groups together, leaders could collectively set standards and criteria for mental health and psychosocial needs.
  • After agreeing on standards collectively within the working group, participants emphasized the importance of the participating leaders socializing these standards within their own organizations. Only by implementing these standards and definitions internally could they become common practice.
  • Next, once the standards and criteria for categorization are defined, the working group emphasized how all professionals working with refugee children and MHPSS should receive training to adequately and effectively categorize the data they gather. The group focused particularly on teachers and all other professionals who might make “first contact” with a child suffering from distress.
  • Finally, participants encouraged the working group to develop and disseminate a checklist for everyone working in the field to have one standard basis to refer to. Although many check-lists already exist, these could be gathered and merged into a single standard for every actor to adopt.

The Value of a Data Catalog and Directory

  • Participants argued for mapping the data lifecycle and the different actors involved to understand who does what, both formally and informally. This mapping, participants noted, could support accountability by identifying lines of authority and helping participants design coordination strategies around the handling of MHPSS data for and about refugee children.
  • Participants noted that the main actors involved in the mapping effort could be the Ministry of Health, the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Gender and Labour, the Ugandan Bureau of Statistics, as well as UNHCR and UNICEF and Civil Society Organizations (at national and local levels). Participants took an expansive view of stakeholder involvement, seeking to include all those with a relevant role in the current system.
  • As a first step, participants suggested tasking the existing MHPSS working groups to lead this mapping.

The Importance of Responsible Data Governance

  • Participants reaffirmed the importance for a common data governance framework that can be adopted and implemented across government and service providers.
  • Toward that end the participants focused on what it would take to develop a manual or standard operating procedures around MHPSS governance.
  • Among the topics such a manual would cover include managing access to data; storage and security of data; quality, reliability and validity of data; among other areas.
  • To advance the creation of such a manual, the participants suggested the creation of a dedicated expert group that could compare best practices and present a draft to the MHPSS working group in the short term.

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These are just a few reflections from our final studio. In October we will publish a more comprehensive and in-depth field report, to illustrate everything undercovered during Responsible Data for Children’s visit to Uganda. For more information on the Initiative, visit our website or reach out at rd4c@thegovlab.org.

https://rd4c.org/articles/rd4c-uganda-day-5-responsible-data-for-children-synthesizes-major-findings-from-the-final-studio/index.html

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Responsible Data Leadership to Address the Challenges of the 21st Century

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