Supporting Young African Data Champions
This summer a unique collaboration convened by the Data Collaboratives for Local Impact asked, “How might we encourage young leaders to leverage data for better decision making?”
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.
Last month the Data Collaboratives for Local Impact program (DCLI), through the Data Zetu project, hosted four Mandela Washington Fellows in Washington DC for a month-long “data collaboratives for local impact” practicum. The practicum brought together four brilliant young leaders — three from Tanzania, one from Cote d’Ivoire — with three outstanding host organizations who work regularly to foster better use of data to achieve the sustainable development goals.
These Fellows were hosted by Development Gateway, Global Integrity, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation — organizations who deeply value the role that good data sharing and use can play in optimal decision-making, better development, and helping us achieve the SDGs. Embedding these Fellows within these groups helped to foster more meaningful collaboration around their specific data needs, and it’s a model that’s been proven by one of Data Zetu’s partners, IREX. As implementer of the USAID- and US Department of State- funded component of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), IREX connects tomorrow’s leaders and with hundreds of public, private and nonprofit partners, such as universities, across the United States and sub-Saharan Africa.
Reflections from the Fellows
The illustrious DCLI Fellows reflected on how the month’s practicum helped nurture skills and value for data in their everyday lives.
Issa Mmbaga, from Tanzania:
As a Public Health Professional, I cannot avoid using data to analyze public health issues which have impact on the public.
Idriss Kone, from Côte d’Ivoire:
I enjoyed most the experience on project design. It enriched my skills in policy implementation, which is in line with my ambition to make difference in Côte d’Ivoire public policy.
Ernest Futta, from Tanzania:
The DCLI- Practicum is an opportunity where those who are passionate about data and want to incorporate data in their day-to-day work can thrive if they give their best effort. You will work hard, learn a lot and… be a better data champion and ambassador.
Vicensia Fuko, from Tanzania:
[The practicum] has shaped my thinking — especially how to package my programs for journalists to use and influence the use of data for decision making.
Beyond the Fellowship
Experiences like these don’t only support the Fellows. Agnieszka Rawa, DCLI Managing Director, explains:
People are at the core of the data revolution. Through this practicum, the four fellows worked with institutions at the frontier of data-driven development to incorporate data in their day-to-day decisions — and into their respective organizations. They are now data ambassadors who will use this knowledge to continue doing incredible things for their communities and countries, while also contributing to the DCLI vision of greater use of data by individuals, communities and organizations to solve challenges related to HIV/AIDs and health, gender and economic growth. We are excited to follow their journey!
These data ambassadors will use this knowledge to continue doing incredible things for their communities and countries.
To enable the fellow to become data ambassadors, we also partnered with School of Data to work on some specific, tailored data skills. David Opoku, a trainer at School of Data, designed and delivered a custom data skills training that complemented the Fellows’ experience.
David Opoku, from School of Data:
The DCLI practicum technical training allowed participants to learn a simple framework, techniques, and tools they can use in developing insights for their work. Participants now have knowledge of what steps and resources are available in building their personal and organizational data skills.
In keeping with Data Zetu’s commitment to open-source methodologies, the curriculum that School of Data delivered is available for anyone to re-use here(there are many other data skills training and resources available, including a curriculum designed by the Open Data Institute, a partner of the Data Zetu sister program dLab).
At its core, the DCLI practicum demonstrates how we can foster burgeoning interest and potential among youth around the world in engaging with the data revolution. A key part of this experiment is ensuring that it’s not isolated, so here are a couple next steps:
- The DCLI Practicum Fellows have been developing a join project about data use based on the insights, opportunities, and gaps they observed during the Practicum. Some of these ideas could overlap with and be supported by Data Zetu or other DCLI partners.
- Later this month, School of Data will host its annual “Summer Camp” at the dLab in Tanzania, where over 80 data enthusiasts from four continents, as well as up to 20 other YALI Fellows and Alumni, will train on data use together with over 40 of School of Data’s trainers and fellows — introducing them to a vast global network of data enthusiasts and ambassadors.
These are just two exciting next steps to foster a culture of data use among the continent’s future leaders. Do you have ideas on how we can encourage more young leaders to use data for improved decision making? Leave a comment if so!