Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals) adopted in September 2015, by the United Nations General Assembly, will require intense mining of data from public, private, and citizen-generated sources. The essence of investing in high-quality data, from an array of sources, is to enable the country scale effectiveness of projects set to meet these goals. Additionally, the move is expected to see an increase in transparency and accountability by the government thus driving a citizen-centric nation.
InfoNET, in a joint effort with the Kenya School of Government (KSG), under the National Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (NPSDD), recently anchored an ideation for climate action dubbed ENNOVA. Ennova is a series of targeted innovation challenges organized by the National Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (NPSDD), that seek to harness the data revolution to catalyze actions to mitigate development challenges in Kenya. The NPSDD is an inclusive data ecosystem involving government, private sector, academia, civil society, local communities and development partners that tackles the informational aspects of development decision-making in a coordinated way.
Ennova seeks to address data gap on two levels, tactical short-term level and a strategic long-term level. In efforts to tackle this data gap, the ideation was held to serve the first level: Identifying and exploring innovative ways of communicating, sharing, and (potentially) sourcing data relevant to the specific challenge at hand with National El Nino Response as the focal issue. This inaugural event held on 15th January at the KSG grounds, addressed the challenges of data for decision making that face the current National Response for El Nino in the short term as well as build national resilience in addressing disasters. The ideation brought together great minds in the private sector, government, civil society and development partners to develop solutions to current gaps in relation to climate change.
It was identified that the government faces a dire Data Knowledge and Capacity gap which consequently affects effective harnessing of data. This was evident during the El Nino response period. Research on El Nino (done by the El Nino Situation Room) unearthed disparities in the documentation of past El Nino phenomena. The El Nino Situation Room (based at the Office of the Deputy President) was set up to mince data to help mitigate the rains. This data aided in setting up of necessary measures in response to the rains and also guided provision of funds to affected counties. Moreover, the data was synthesized to form credible predictions on areas to be affected leading to relocation of families to safer areas. The lack of past substantial data on mitigation of El Nino compromised effectiveness in preparation and response for future Disasters.
Measures taken to resolve this gap included collection of data from the ground by using county coordinators to help provide information on real-time occurrences. This enabled the El Nino Situation Response team collate raw data from across the country and condense it to form credible reports that would help decision makers to respond. The agencies that were served by these reports included the government, inter-governmental agencies and media houses. Through harnessing of data sources the government succeeded in limiting the effects of the recent El Nino phenomenon which had been touted to exceed its predecessor of 1997. All data mined is stored in a central system that could be retrieved in the future and acts to serve as baseline for future response measures.
The Ennova challenge realized sustainable solutions to this effect where 27 projects were submitted in the second half of the event, through a hackathon. Through thorough review of the projects, the most feasible will be actualized in efforts to narrowing the existing data-knowledge gap.