Meet Vicensia Fuko: Young African Data Champion
Vicensia spent a month in Washington DC with the Millennium Challenge Corporation for a “Data Collaboratives for Local Impact” practicum. Watch her interview here.
This blog post was published as part of the Data Zetu project. Data Zetu is now an initiative of the Tanzania dLab, a local NGO that promotes innovation and data literacy through a premier center of excellence. For more information about the dLab, visit www.dlab.or.tz. For more information about the Data Zetu project, visit www.irex.org.
“There is a high demand for new ways of doing journalism and ‘the use of data’ is one of the solutions.”
What’s your background?
My name is Vicensia Fuko, a Senior Programme Officer at Tanzania Media Foundation (TMF). For the past 9 years, I have been — among other activities — designing innovative programs for journalists. The idea is to build journalists’ capacities in using new ways of doing journalism to enhance accountability in Tanzania — one of which is data journalism.
Why is data relevant to your work?
Currently, the media industry in the world is faced with many challenges. The place for press freedom and free speech is shrinking, safety and security for journalists is shaking and moreover, with the technological revolution, traditional media is under siege. The majority of people, no longer wait to read papers the next day, since they can read news through their mobile phones. Besides, there are unscrupulous people who misuse the profession and technology to disseminate fake news. Fake news is undermining the role of media as a gate keeper and a watch dog.
Therefore, there is a high demand for new ways of doing journalism and “the use of data” is one of the solutions. Participating in the practicum was important for me since I wanted to enhance my data skills. In addition, I wanted to build relationships with people who are a part of the data revolution. My ardent desire was to transfer knowledge and build a pool of data journalists in Tanzania who will influence the use of data for decision making.
What exactly did you do and learn during the DCLI practicum?
During my practicum, I was placed at Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), which to me, was a life changing experience. Apart from being induced to what DCLI is doing in Tanzania, I was involved in supporting the development of a DLI Innovation Challenge window. This activity was an opportunity for me to share some insights about youth unemployment in Tanzania. I also developed personal projects with technical support from DCLI team at MCC. DCLI connected me with DC based Media organisations such as Internews and Pulitzer Centre. I was also able to meet and build relationships with different people and figures across Washington DC including Ambassador Deborah Brix, Head of the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR).
Indeed, I learned many things. One of the skills I obtained was on how to use programming tools such as RStudio to analyse data for decision making. RStudio simplifies data cleaning, analysis and visualization, all in one compact. I’m working hard to make sure that I put this skill to work.
I believe that my experience at MCC has shaped my thinking especially, how to package my programmes for journalists to use and influence the use of data for decision making. I will urge future Mandela Fellows to grab this opportunity should they want to influence feasible change in their communities.