Image by Department For International Development / International Development Research Centre /Thomas Omondi
  • Report
  • 24 March 2017

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

In 2016, Making All Voices Count commissioned DI and DRT to conduct a one-year study on citizen-generated data 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.

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Photo: Development Research and Training