DEVELOPING TANZANIA’S FIRST SUBNATIONAL DATA ROADMAP
In rural Tanzania where data-informed decisions can transform the battle against HIV/AIDS, Kyela District Council is developing an action plan to amplify evidence-based planning for improved service delivery.
In 2017 the District Executive Director of Kyela Municipal Council, located in Mbeya region in southwest Tanzania, shared with the Data Zetu team challenges he faced in accessing good quality data to inform his office’s planning and budgeting decisions. For example, knowing about—and being able to analyze and use—information like population data or the location of water points can help his team target their limited resources to where they will have the largest impact.
Subnational actors—local officials and extension workers, NGOs, etc.—are a common source of data that national and supranational actors, like ministries and donors, rely on. For example, local CSOs and clinics report how many citizens are tested for HIV/AIDS, which is an important metric for aid efforts led by PEPFAR and the Ministry of Health. Yet the bulk of investments into improving data use remain at the national level. As a result, local and hyperlocal officials are poorly equipped to collect, manage, and use the data that is so important to sustainable development. And because of the limited attention in this area, subnational areas like Kyela District lack a coherent strategy to develop and refine their use of data for evidence-based decision making.
Building on its two years of implementation experience, consultations with local stakeholders, and its own research efforts, Data Zetu developed a subnational data roadmap for Kyela District Council. The purpose of this tool is to support efforts to deliver more inclusive development by facilitating a better understanding of subnational data ecosystem challenges/gaps and by identifying initiatives to address them, to facilitate availability, accessibility, and use of high-quality data for sustainable development.
Over a period of several months, Data Zetu’s Statistical Coordinator, Rose Aiko—a data and open data specialist with years of experience supporting data use in Tanzania —developed a draft data roadmap, drawing from insights from activities of Data Zetu partners over the past two years, consultations with government and CSO stakeholders of the subnational data ecosystem in Kyela, and further research on challenges to data flows in Kyela.
The team also reviewed guidelines for local governments such as the participatory Opportunity and Obstacles to Development process, and other PO-RALG publications on local governance, as well as the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD) subnational data roadmaps toolkit. The draft also learned from early efforts of GPSDD and the National Bureau of Statistics in Tanzania in establishing a national data roadmap process for sustainable development.
he first draft of the data roadmap was completed in October 2018 and discussed with Kyela District Council Planning and Economics department on 30th October, as well as at a District Action Planning meeting, on 3rd November, which included Councilors and Ward Executive Officers from all of Kyela’s 33 wards, heads of departments at the District Council, and representatives from the civil society.
Participants listen to the data roadmap presentation at the District Action Planning Event in Kyela, 3rd Nov. 2018.
Outcomes and Impacts
“We would like to make sure Kyela becomes the model of the data revolution in our country” –District Executive Director, Kyela District Council.
Early expression of commitment and ownership over improved data use. As the DED told Data Zetu: “the councilors and the management of the Kyela Local Government have started to understand the importance of data and how each one of us can play his/her role to change lives of our citizens and execute our work properly. We are keen to sustain and continue work with you to realize what you have started.”
Opportunities for scaling up are also emerging. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has requested Data Zetu to organize a high-level forum for Council Directors, where Kyela District Council could share their experience and roadmap approach with other Local Government Authorities (LGAs) for replication elsewhere.
A letter from the Kyela District Executive Director expressing commitment for continued engagement to evolve the roadmap and implement its recommendations.
There is more that needs to be done to build on this initial momentum. The district council has specifically requested Data Zetu to translate the draft to Kiswahili so that it becomes more accessible to local actors, and to conduct specific meetings to further go through the data roadmap with the Council Management Team (CMT), Councilors, Ward Executive Officers and to build awareness of executive officers in its 93 villages.
Data Zetu is working towards meeting the requests from the Kyela District Council that can be managed within the remaining time and budget of the Data Zetu project, starting with the translation of the roadmap and engagements at the highest level–with the CMT and Ward Councilors. More partners are needed to support Kyela to sustain the efforts they are starting. To facilitate this, the team is working with the Council to cost out activities which they can start to implement, and also to engage other stakeholders to provide further support for implementing this roadmap.
Finally, although data roadmaps for sustainable development may exist, they are not easily available online. This makes it hard for other communities to replicate and catalyze their own similar efforts. So—and in keeping with Data Zetu’s mission to make information accessible for others—the subnational data roadmap will be published online for others to refer to as a template, even in its draft form, at the end of the Data Zetu project.