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Open data workshop for data-driven journalism in Africa

July 20, 2016
  • East Africa

Open data is data that anyone can access, use and share. It sounds simple, but not all journalists are aware of the open data available to them or how to use it when writing about programmes to tackle critical challenges facing agriculture. Africa’s agenda on agriculture that could be advanced by media reporting informed by open data is the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). CAADP is the continental framework for improving food security and nutrition, and increasing incomes in Africa's largely farming-based economies. CAADP pursues an average annual growth of 6% in national agricultural sectors and allocations of at least 10% of national budgets to agriculture.

The Open Data Training Course for Journalists, 25–28 July in Nairobi, has been organised by CTA1 and the New Partnership for Africa's Development Agency (NEPAD). The aim was to create awareness of open data among media practitioners. The training provided members of the CAADP Journalists Network with practical tips for using open data.

"The CAADP experience has demonstrated that Africa has a well-crafted, home-grown framework guiding policies, strategies and actions in agricultural development and transformation. At the heart of it all are journalists, key partners in communicating and facilitating dialogue in agriculture, the mainstay of African economies. Moreover, the CAADP Results Framework and the indicators therein prove critical for the media to interrogate in evidence-based reporting."
Dr Augustin Wambo Yamdjeu, Head of CAADP at the NEPAD Agency.

Launched in 2013 by the African Union Commission (AUC) and the NEPAD Agency to promote agricultural development in Africa, the CAADP Journalists Network aims to equip African journalists with an understanding of CAADP, and the broader issues and debates related to agricultural development on the continent.

"With the focus now on Sustaining the CAADP Momentum and stressing more on implementation, results and impact, we are more than happy to be forging stronger ties with the media as our voice to the world about CAADP."
Dr Janet Edeme, AUC Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture, March 2013.

The workshop is part of CTA's capacity development and training component of the GODAN Action project on open data tailored to raising agricultural production, improving consumer nutrition and advancing evidence-based policy-making. The training course introduced participants to open data concepts, showed them where to find open data and demonstrated ways to use it. Journalists learned how to transform data into compelling stories, charts, maps and infographics.

media outputs 01

"Open data can play a critical role in the implementation of the CAADP Framework and Process. Enhancing the capacity of journalists to research and work with open data could lead, as an ultimate goal, to a demand for data from civil society groups and farmers' organisations to monitor progress in reaching the agreed targets of investment and production both at national and continental levels."
Isaura Lopes Ramos, CTA.

In their Declaration in Malabo, African Heads of State noted the need for monitoring, tracking and reporting progress using the CAADP Results Framework. Journalists, as CAADP's voices to the world, can tap into open data to provide user-friendly information that empowers civil society organisations, farmers' groups and the private sector to monitor progress towards the CAADP Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation Goals 2025.

1 GODAN Action is a 3.5 year project led by international partners with a strong agriculture, nutrition, data and ICT record including Wageningen UR–Alterra, AgroKnow, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR), the Land Portal, the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA), the Open Data Institute (ODI), AidData and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS).

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