Together with CBM’s Country Representative for Kenya, David Munyendo, I had the pleasure of attending the High-Level meeting entitled “Data for Development in Africa – Unleashing the Power of Data and Partnerships Across Africa” on 29th and 30th in Nairobi. That event was co-hosted by the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, the Governments of Kenya and Sierra Leone, and Safaricom. It brought together more than 400 representatives from Governments, UN Agencies, the Private Sector, Civil Society and Academia. All of these different actors came together united by the vision to contribute to the often quoted data revolution that should benefit those who are currently most marginalised.
And this is where disability comes into the picture! In fact, whereas this was the biggest meeting of that kind in Africa, the CBM team in Kenya had advocated for inclusion of persons with disabilities in the data debates over the last few years, and with success! CBM was one of the few disability and development NGOs being invited to the meeting.
During the course of the two days, a number of key messages emerged:
- The world needs more and better data, in order for decision-makers to design good policies and programmes.
- But data are not only for decision-makers, they are equally important for people and their daily life. For example, more reliable data on weather conditions can help farmers to decide when to plant, a massive potential gain in terms of food security and livelihood.
- There are many good initiatives and innovations regarding data, but it is now vital to bring these together, in order to maximize their potential. The meeting showed a great deal of political commitment by many actors to improve investments in data, but illustrated also a growing number of concrete initiatives that already exist including at the grassroots. For CBM, the data revolution will continue to be an important topic, not only in promoting the inclusion of persons with disabilities in such political debates, but also very concretely in our programmatic work. From my point of view, it would be desirable to show case at upcoming meetings of a similar nature CBM and its partners’ projects that highlight how data disaggregated by disability helped to improve e.g. educational services at community level. Because it is really at that level that data should make a difference!