Numbers in the News — Digest #1

Data Zetu’s first digest of data-driven Tanzanian media stories.

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 For more information about the Data Zetu project, visit

Data Zetu’s mission is to amplify the voices of ordinary Tanzanians, and to use data about ‘pain points’ in their lives to improve evidence-based public discourse.

One way to achieve this is to support media organizations who are pioneering data-driven storytelling in their newsrooms.

Through our partner Code for Tanzania (CfT), we’ve been supporting a team of Media Fellows as they use data to investigate and report on issues related to gender, economic growth, and health in Tanzania. Some of these Fellows are part of the PesaCheck fact-checking initiative, while others work as changemakers at leading media outlets including Mwananchi, The Citizen, Fikra Pevu and The Guardian.

A PesaCheck column about education and teen mothers was re-published on the front page of the Guardian, a leading English daily in August.

Data Zetu gives the Fellows access to data scientists and editorial experts at the CfT CivicLab and the dLAB in Dar es Salaam, along with access to drones, satellite imagery and digital production facilities. This support, coupled with resources from strategic partners such as Twaweza and the wider Code for Africa (CfA) federation, have helped sparked systemic changes in leading newsrooms.

Mwananchi has, for example, created the country’s first dedicated data journalism desk (which has already produced 66 data-driven stories), while The Guardian has begun using HURUmap (a tool jointly supported by Data Zetu and Twaweza) that uses demographic data and PEPFAR health data to improve the context and accuracy in news reportage.

HURUmap is an open-source tool that integrates PEPFAR data along with national census statistics, as well as detailed survey data from Twaweza’s Uwezo initiative.

These pioneering efforts are building traction. Articles supported by Data Zetu have already been read online by nearly 40,000 people (there are no reliable statistics yet in Tanzania for offline readership), with more than 8,000 people also engaging with that content on social media. International media, including AllAfrica and Global Voices, have also republished some of the stories to a wider world audience.

Here’s a small sample of some of the stories they’ve produced in the past few months, focused on either Data Zetu priority issues or the wards and districts in which we work:

The focus in coming months will be using citizen data to shine a light on issues or perspectives that are ordinarily under-reported.

Are you a data-driven storyteller? Do you use or produce data on issues related to health, gender, or economic growth in Tanzania? Contact us to share your story or join the Media Fellows team!

Data Zetu is a coalition of Tanzanian civic innovation organisations that aim to empower communities to make better, evidence-based decisions to improve their lives.

The coalition consists of Code for Tanzania (CfT), Sahara Sparks (SS) and the Tanzania Bora Initiative (TBI), with global expertise from SBC4D and IREX, funded by the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

Data Zetu operates as part of the $21.8 million Data Collaboratives for Local Impact (DCLI) programme administered by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).