Quincy Wiele in Bogota, Colombia
As the potential of citizen generated data (CGD) to shape policy begins to be understood globally, new platforms are emerging all around the world that enables pioneers of this new thinking to build networks, learn from and interact directly with each other. I was honoured to recently represent the Local Interventions Group at one such gathering held in beautiful Bogota, Colombia. While reaching Bogota was a challenge in itself (total flight time was close 25 hours alone!) it was an immensely enriching experience both personally and professionally speaking.
The 5-day conference was divided into two separate but interrelated conferences; the DataShift Jamboree, held between 23rd to 24th April 2016 and the proceeding International Civil Society Week which began on the 25th and ended on the 28th of April. Both conferences presented a unique opportunity for The Group to highlight some aspects of its work, namely our flagship initiative, Follow the Money.
The first presentation was at the Jamboree. This group comprised of various representatives from organisations who had received direct support from DataShift to carry out a study on the impact of citizen generated data in Argentina, South East Africa (Kenya and Tanzania) and Nepal (which we carried out). After presenting the findings of our research, I then spoke very briefly about Follow the Money which has received support from DataShift in the past.
I then had the opportunity to present on Follow the Money to a much wider audience on the first day of the ICSW 2016 conference. With an interactive setting, I received important bits of advice on how to take Follow the Money further. Furthermore, we are now in prelimary talks with an NGO to see if there is any scope for Follow the Money to be applied in Ecuador after their own recent earthquake.
Along with ensuring accountability during a cathartic period in Nepal’s history by empowering people at the local level, Follow the Money also seeks to place people at the centre of decision making in a post disaster setting. We are firm believers that by placing local communities at the centre of decision making, we can increase the likelihood of successful and sustainable development projects.
I concluded my trip by spending many hours wandering the streets of Bogota, a vibrant and colourful city that has emerged successfully from decades of unrest. Wide streets decorated with immense and highly beautiful bits of art criss-cross a city with an abundance of museums, art galleries and theatres.
While returning to Nepal (only 21 hours return), I had plenty of time to piece together all the information I had received over 6 days on how to forward Follow the Money. From methodology to visualisation, there is plenty we can improve on. With that said, the enthusiasm I received along with the sheer interest of the attendees reinforces my belief that programmes like Follow the Money are absolutely vital to improving, and over the long term ensuring, accountable and transparent governance.