Citizen-generated data and sustainable development: Evidence from case studies in Kenya and Uganda


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.

Main findings

  • 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.

Main recommendations

  • 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.

Download the executive summary

Download the full report

Photo: Development Research and Training