In March 2016, Making All Voices Count commissioned Development Initiatives and Development Research and Training (DRT) to conduct a one-year study on the use of citizen-generated data in two different cases in Uganda and Kenya.
The study was structured around four main areas of enquiry: motivations for producing, the users of citizen-generated data, the use of citizen-generated data and its potential for wider use.
In Uganda we focused on a process that provides unsolicited citizen feedback in local communities, based on the work of Community Resource Trackers – a group of volunteers supported by DRT in five post-conflict districts (Gulu, Kitgum, Pader, Katakwi and Kotido).
In Kenya we focused on a formalised process of citizen-generated data involving the Ministry of Education and National Taxpayers Association: the School Report Card – an effort to increase parent involvement in schooling.
We applied a number of tools to gather evidence: key informant interviews, focus-group discussions, a literature review and a workshop. Our respondents ranged from government employees and organisation staff to community members and other civil society organisations.
- The findings from our case studies demonstrate that citizens – individuals and communities – are important agents in the data revolution as active users, producers and intermediaries of development data and information.
- In both cases, citizen-generated data initiatives have contributed to improvements in the delivery of development-related projects, accessibility and/or quality of public services.
- Both initiatives contributed to empowerment and participation of local actors in accountability efforts, albeit with more limited engagement from more marginalised groups.
- There is some indication that the Kenyan initiative saw policy-level uptake.
- Due to significant differences in context and purpose of the initiatives, the data and information produced differ significantly in degree of standardisation and documentation, pointing to a need for a differentiated approach when considering and harnessing the wider potential of citizen-generated data.
- Conduct further research to develop typologies and case studies of citizen-generated data initiatives and the data they produce.
- Explore in more detail how datasets generated through citizen-generated data initiatives complement available official data.
- Strengthen existing citizen-generated data efforts as appropriate to context and objectives, in particular to include marginalised people and communities and to assure data quality.
- Build collaboration and partnerships with official actors, especially around the development of community-level data collection infrastructures.
- More broadly, engaging in ongoing dialogue with official and other non-official data stakeholders to contribute to the development of an inclusive national statistics system that maximises the contributions of all users and producers of data.