KEY INDIVIDUAL(s)

Mahadia Tunga

WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM
THIS CASE STUDY

Policy / decision-makers
Practitioners / professionals
Technical people
Communities
Researchers
Funders

KEY CATEGORIES

Open Data

Gender Equality

Innovation

Youth

Data Literacy

CONTACT CTIN

CASE STUDY

Tanzania Data Lab: Promoting innovation and data literacy

TYPE OF ORGANISATION RESPONSIBLE FOR THE INITIATIVE

NAME

EMAIL

WEBSITE

Tanzania Data Lab

N/A

STATUS

COUNTRY

FOUNDING DATE

Live

Tanzania

2018

BRIEF OVERVIEW OF CASE STUDY

Tanzania Data Lab (dLab) is a non-governmental organization and was established to sustain the work and impact of Data Collaboratives for Local Impact (DCLI) program in Tanzania.

DCLI was implemented via four projects and one of which are dLab. The other projects are Data Zetu, a sub-national project that exposed local authorities and citizens to the benefits of data use; Data for Local Impact Innovation Challenge (DLIIC), an innovation challenge that enlisted and supported entrepreneurs in designing evidence-based solutions using existing data; and the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD) that launched the national data roadmap process in Tanzania.

dLab supports and sustains the Open Data ecosystem in Tanzania, by developing and building data skills of government, private sector, civil society, and citizens and empowering them through data to drive development progress.

dLab envisions an Africa where data is frequently and effectively used to inform policy and decision-making at all levels. Its mission is to strengthen data ecosystems and data usage in innovation, policy and decision-making on health, economic growth, and gender in Tanzania, and Africa.

The activities of dLab include:

  • Training in data literacy and analysis focused content-area data analytics
  • The development of “use cases” to showcase how data can be used to improve lives
  • Support the development of a roadmap, thus assisting the country to monitor progress toward meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Drive data-driven research and innovation
What was the problem & What was the approach taken to it?

The Problem:

The initiative addresses the root causes of insufficient and ineffective use of data by country-level stakeholders and attempts to strengthen the overall data ecosystem in Tanzania.

Limited availability of disaggregated data relevant to the community problems is one of the major challenges facing Tanzania.

Most official data sets are aggregated at the regional level in Tanzania, and there is a weak connection and some discrepancies between local government data and national data reported by government ministries, departments, and agencies.

There are also discrepancies in data produced by ministries, departments and agencies due to lack of alignment in data production.

The Approach:

dLab has a FOUR pillar approach to its work: 

  • Data Science Solutions 

    dLab sees a huge potential to address the existing data discrepancies. dLab developed an open data portal for or by the civil society to promote use data generated by projects and organizations such as IATI, World Bank, AfDB etc. 

    The portal is further supplemented by other online resources, such as a resource directory that enables the interested organization and civic societies to access the data and use it for their for specific projects and activities.

    dLab enables access to data and making it more accessible to various stakeholders such as the private sector, government and civic societies so that it becomes a prominent feature in decision making in Tanzania. 

  • Community Engagement 

    The main strategic objective of the community engagement is to contribute in strengthening data ecosystem that empowers the community to own, generate and use data. dLab focuses on awareness-raising and building linkages with the Open Data community. This includes the organization of events, boot camps, meetups, and fellowships supplemented by fostering a developer community in the country; thus further developing the Open Data Innovation support network.

    dLab also collects data by interviewing and talking to people in communities and hold community events like street plays, music, etc. that informs local communities about the importance and use of data  

  • Capacity Development 

    Capacity development is one of the core functions of Tanzania Data Lab. It seeks to build basic to advanced skills in innovation, data literacy, management, analysis, visualization, and data science in general, and in-turn builds a movement of data stewards, data-driven innovators, and professionals in Tanzania and Africa. These skills are delivered in several ways; Free Online Training; Practical Data Training; and Training Curriculum.

    dLab also engages and provides technical skills training to government officials, so that they understand the importance of data.

  • Research and Innovation

dLab conducts research and engages, supports and connects innovators, developers, and solution providers to each other, and to opportunities. It capacitates entrepreneurs to develop and use data-driven decisions and incorporate it into their businesses. In this regard, dLab focusses on:

  • Increase awareness and support to innovators
  • Formalizing Data-Driven Innovation Community of Practice
  • Incubate and/Scale-Up innovations that are data-driven
  • Research Data Used and Shared to Spur Data-Driven Innovations

Which actors, resources, conditions, tools, etc. were required?

  • Support and partnership with Data Collaborative for Local Impact (DCLI) program was essential
  • Funding from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)
  • Collaboration with Tanzania Open Data Initiatives (TODI) and Big Results Now (BRW) were key to ensure that national open data roadmap is streamlined
  • Engagement with the community via street plays and discussion about issues and problems
LESSONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
  • Collaboration and partnerships are key
  • To have the buy-in from government officials and train them on the use of data
  • Research and innovation are significant growth drivers in the data age and are essential in solving most of the challenges
  • There is massive potential in streamlining and aggregating data that is collected at various levels for innovation, and new businesses to emerge that can tap into the potential and opportunities. Non-state actors including CSOs (civic society organisations), CBOs (community-based organisation), and citizen movements have been collecting data at the sub-national and national level, however, most of the data collected are mainly used for donor reporting. The actual use of the data collected locally is extremely low.
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NOTE: The case studies submitted will be used in content creation, we will write articles on your work that engages with our readers. The case studies will also be compiled and added to our CTIN database of civic tech case studies and shared through our various channels.