What a year this has been! For many of us, this year has been an unparalleled horror show one that will not easily be forgotten. For us, this has been a pivotal year – one of the most interesting complexities. On the one hand, 2020 was billed to be the year that we move to a new level of growth, where we pivot to an international organisation. This was the year when we were to open our doors in Ghana to replicate our Global Goals for Local Impact programme among the Akwapim people. This was the year when our training centre that we invested in last year was to take off. It was in this year that we had planned to collect citizen-generated data with at least 1 million households in multiple counties in Kenya to show that it can be done cost-effectively.
Most of these activities have had to be postponed or abandoned altogether.
Thankfully, our citizen-generated data work is steaming ahead in Elgeyo Marakwet county as we work with citizens and the county government to collect data from 101,000 households in the county. We are grateful for the ability to pivot and support the National Emergency Response Committee that is leading the response to COVID-19 to better understand communities using a tool that we built called Nuru. We are happy that the tool is now being used by some organisations in multiple countries (more on this in a separate blog post). We are grateful that our citizen-generated data work has flowed out to include communities that are usually ignored like the Artisanal Small Scale Miners in Taita Taveta, Migori and Kakamega counties.
Looking forward, we envision a busy 2021 in which we hope to be able to do considerably more in terms of our programming work both in Kenya and around the African continent. Some of the activities that we are looking forward to scaling up aggressively in the new year include:
- The Restore Data Rights work that is picking up momentum in Africa. We hope to work with organisations in Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Mauritius among others to build up advocacy activities for countries to establish policies that protect citizens’ data rights.
- We hope to continue to facilitate collection of citizen data and citizen reporting through Nuru, in the same way that we have with some organisations across the continent.
- We are looking forward to deepening our citizen-generated data work in more counties in Kenya.
- We are looking forward to embedding the Ability Map in more cities, working with Persons with Disabilities in various counties to map out their cities as a means to assessing how accessible their roads and buildings are for use by everyone – regardless of their activities.
All of these activities are geared towards us doing what we do best, to experiment on various ways that enable governments to be responsive – meaning that they are proactively transparent and they develop mechanisms for effectively listening to their communities’ needs in order to provide sustainable solutions. We are also experimenting on ways to promote active citizenship by having citizens collect and use their own data to establish their needs and priorities and to use their voices to demand those services.
To effect our expanded strategy and also to evolve our ways of working, we have reorganised our team structure and expanded our leadership somewhat. We now have segmented our work into directorates – Finance (led by Jay Bhalla, who is also our co-founder and Trustee), Operations (led by Benjamin Charagu, who is also a trustee), Technology (led by John Mucheke), Team Wellness (Led By Loise Mboo) and Programmes (currently held by Benjamin as we await our new Programmes Director to join us in January). In a previous blog post, we introduced our new Team Wellness Director, and in the coming weeks, we will be introducing the rest of the team as we continue to innovate new ways of doing what we do even in these changing times.
As we end this year, despite the setbacks and changes we have navigated, we believe we have come out stronger. We wish you Happy Holidays and encourage you to take time to reflect, remembering to be thankful for having made it to the end of 2020 alive and well, even as we look forward to a Happy New 2021.