TANZANIA’S NATIONAL BUREAU OF STATISTICS GETS HANDS-ON WITH THE TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES THAT POWER CITIZEN-GENERATED DATA
Tanzania’s primary coordinating agencies for national statistics and local government build familiarity with open-source tools and methods that could transform how community-mapped location information is validated and used.
In early 2018, community mapping efforts led by Data Zetu partner Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) put the country’s most hyperlocal boundaries—called shinas—onto maps for the first time. These initiatives make use of low-cost data collection tools, like a free app called Open Data Kit (ODK), and community members themselves to plot boundaries that can empower local officials and citizens to target investments and actions more precisely and enhance community resilience.
This map shows shina boundaries in Makangarawe ward in Dar es Salaam.
Challenges related to citizen-generated data (CGD) are numerous and vary according to stakeholder. For non-governmental actors, there remains a lack of clarity about how CGD can be published in Tanzania in ways that promote re-use and informed decision making without challenging official statistics or presenting inaccurate information.
For their part, official actors like the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) are interested in the idea of cheaper and more efficient ways of collecting data compared with ever-growing data collection costs. However, a lack of familiarity with techniques incubated by the CDG community leaves important questions unanswered, like whether ODK can be relied on to offer the same efficiency and precision as the software and methods with which they’re more familiar, or whether it can do so more cheaply.
To close the gap between citizen-generated data and official statistics, HOT and the Data Zetu team:
- Introduced HOT’s community mapping methodology, used to surface shina boundaries, to NBS for review and validation;
- Conducted a two-week, hands-on training with NBS and the President’s Office for Regional and Local Government (PO-RALG, who approve subnational area boundaries) on ODK and community-mapping methods;
- Forged commitments to implement specific mechanisms—such as a memorandum of understanding—to generate guidelines for non-state actors to have their own unofficial statistics validated and accepted for use by communities and governments.
In early 2018, community mapping efforts led by Data Zetu partner Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) put the country’s most hyperlocal boundaries—called shinas—onto maps for the first time. These initiatives make use of low-cost data collection tools, like a free app called Open Data Kit (ODK), and community members themselves to plot boundaries that can empower local officials and citizens
In March 2018, Data Zetu sent a letter to the NBS expressing its intentions to share the community mapping and shina map data with other stakeholders and inviting the NBS to review and validate the methodology before the data is shared. In June HOT and the Data Zetu team presented the community mapping methodology to the NBS team, who in turn expressed interest in learning more about how the shina maps are generated from beginning to end through training, as well as gaining access to the raw data from HOT.
To follow up on this request, in late November 2018 in Dodoma, HOT conducted a training on ODK, attended jointly by NBS and PO-RALG, under the context of supporting the NBS 2022 census preparation task team.
HOT team member Asha Mustaphur (standing, left) helps NBS and PO-RALG officials install and use Open Data Kit on their devices.
Outcomes and Impacts
- Improved coordination between NBS and PO-RALG. Engaging regional authorities can help mainstream shina and community-mapped methodologies for improved data use across government and civil society. Conversations have begun for HOT to deliver a presentation on its CGD methods to PO-RALG in early 2019.
- Greater technical capacity within NBS and PO-RALG to use Open Data Kit for community mapping and data collection. HOT’s training is the first step in building familiarity with these tools.
- Interest by NBS in working together to develop a step-by-step guideline for adoption of citizen-generated data. The guideline will help non-state actors understand what to do by explaining in a simple language the steps to follow to get their data validated and accepted for use in decision-making by the government.
- Continued dialog with local governments on usage of administrative boundaries. HOT plans to convene a number of stakeholders from local government agencies including PO-RALG to facilitate discussion around the practical usage of administrative boundaries at the community level.