The rapidly increasing availability of scientific, social and market data has huge potential to improve the agriculture sector and address food security and nutrition challenges. But to achieve this potential we need to ensure that this data can be accessed shared and used by those who are in a position to realise its benefits.
As such, capacity development is a key component of the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) Action project. Supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), GODAN Action is led by Wageningen Environmental Research together with international partners including CTA, AgroKnow, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR), the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), the Land Portal and the Open Data Institute (ODI).
In this context, CTA leads a work package that provides several activities aimed at building the skills of researchers, infomediaries (ICT workers, librarians, journalists etc.), policymakers, extension workers and farmer organisations. The activities include the delivery of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), face-to-face training workshops, facilitating monthly webinars and supporting communities of practice to maximise the potential for impact in agriculture and nutrition.
Results and intermediate outcomes
Four MOOCs have so far been delivered, from November 2017 to June 2018. The name of the MOOC is “Open Data Management in Agriculture, Nutrition and Land". To date over 2,000 professionals have been trained through these online courses, and feedback has generally been very positive.
Several workshops have also been delivered on Open Data and Nutrition with 140 participants being trained. These have been targeted at journalists, policymakers, researchers and infomediaries:
- Kenya - Journalists training - July 2016
- Ecuador - Policy makers training - October 2016
- Ghana – Training of Trainers - July 2017
- Kenya – Researchers Training - October 2017
- Washington - Infomediaries Training - March 2018
- South Africa - Infomediaries Training - May 2018
To encourage uptake and use of the training material, a GODAN Action mini-grant programme was introduced in early 2018. The programme will see eight grantees receiving funds to develop and pass on open data knowledge to their communities through face-to-face training initiatives.
Outreach: Communities developed
GODAN Capacity Development Working Group
The Working Group brings together a group of over 800 practitioners with an interest in developing and sharing best practices for capacity development in open data for agriculture. GODAN Action supports the community by facilitating the discussion forum and delivering monthly webinars on various open data topics. Past webinar topics have ranged from ‘Publishing Open Data’ and ‘Agri Geo Information Systems’, to ‘The Intersection of Gender and Open Data’. The full list of webinars can be found on CTA’s YouTube channel.
Several training resources have been developed following the training events and have been made available for use by the open data community. To capitalise on these important resources, an online network of GODAN Action trainers exists to support the dissemination of open data knowledge. The network is also a sustainable way to extend actions in the long-term, and explores the potential for scaling up the project’s activities.
Evaluation and Impact
After every training event or session, feedback from participants is collected. This has largely been very positive, with participants indicating they had learnt a lot that they can implement in their everyday lives and work. The project partners are also currently evaluating the project’s impact by collecting stories of change from training recipients:
- “We now know how to unlock the potential of key data in the fishing sector, how the FAIR principles vary and how they are implemented, [and we] understand the value of taking these concepts down to the users.” Stephen Kalyesubula Co-Founder & Director, Youths in Technology and Development-Uganda
- “Out of the courses, we have been able to transition our programme from a pure academic programme to a programme that is driven by the application of open data. We have been able, jointly with the trainers I have selected to participate with me, to create a company limited by guarantee (a social enterprise) to promote an open data agenda in Africa.” Kiringai Kamau, Programme for Agricultural Capacity Development in Africa (P4ACAD), Kenya
CTA and its GODAN Action project partners will continue to customise the training content for target audiences and communities in the land and nutrition sectors. Now is a crucial moment to build capacities and raise awareness amongst key policymakers and intermediaries on the importance of land information and data sharing in a sustainable, inclusive and equitable way – specifically with respect to the use and adoption of open data principles. At the same time, successive Global Nutrition Reports (GNR) have highlighted both the critical importance of effective nutrition data creation, curation and analysis in achieving progress on nutrition outcomes. The partners will therefore work to improve the capacity of data publishers to publish in a way that allows for it to be discoverable online and for data users to analyse, interpret and re-present data in order to effect change.