Between January 2013 and May 2014 Development Initiatives and Development research and Training were part of the Open Data in Developing Countries (ODDC) study, a multi-case study initiative funded by the WWF and IDRC that sought to ascertain the impact of open data in transforming developing countries. The Uganda/Kenya case study investigated the impact of open data on resource allocation for poverty eradication in Uganda and Kenya.
While the open data movement may be relatively new in East Africa, the issues that it seeks to address are age-old. They include transparency, accountability, equity, relevance and responsiveness to community needs, and effectiveness and efficiency of governance systems and processes. A key purpose of this increasingly popular approach is to make local, regional and national data, particularly publicly acquired data, available, accessible, and useable for a wide cross-section of development actors.
This study therefore set out to answer two broad questions:
1. How are open data initiatives contributing to poverty eradication through impact on resource allocation?
2. How could the contribution of open data initiatives to poverty eradications resource allocations be strengthened?
The study also sought to develop knowledge and action that would enhance the potential of open data to foster greater transparency and accountability, better economic efficacy and efficiency and greater inclusion and empowerment of marginalised groups.
Over the study period, we took opportunities to contribute to the growth of the open data movement in the two countries by participating in debates, forums and discussions on openness and transparency and by engaging actors both government and non-government on the importance of open data in allocation of resources. The result is that Open data has at least joined the maxim of development discussion at government fora and key institutions like Uganda Bureau of Statistics, The Kenya ICT board as well the Ministries of Finance of the two governments are now our key partners. We also were able to leverage the opportunity the study gave to enrich our other projects with similar goals.
Our key finding is that although there was no clear link between open data and resource allocation, largely because of political economy factors, digital divide, policy incoherence among other factors, the potential for this link is apparent because of equally strong drivers of open data processes in both countries.