As part of our efforts to increase the amount of transparency and accountability work we support in Africa, a few months ago we announced a grant to Code4SA to support their School of Data Fellowship Programme (Scoda SA for short). Six months in and the programme is showing a number of promising results. Two fellows – selected after an open application process – were chosen to work in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Following some initial training and an outline of the programme, the fellows set to work by partnering with a handful of partner organisations who were keen to use more data and visualisations as part of their work. In Johannesburg, the fellow worked with an online news organisation, The Con, and a second group, Media Monitoring Africa. In Cape Town, meanwhile, Ndifuna Nkwazi, the International Budget Partnership and the Social Justic Coalition cooperated to work on a budgeting project, while another Indigo grantee, The Black Sash, were a second partner.
The partnerships have started to bear fruit. The Cape Town Budget project, for example, is now up and running and offers a glimpse into a complex world of ward budgets and aims to promote the active involvement of citizens in budget setting. Less technically demanding, but just as informative and probably more accessible, Black Sash worked directly with the data fellow to produce a simple infographic poster using data from citizen monitoring to tell a story of failing service delivery and show areas of improvement. Media Monitoring Africa, meanwhile, have initiated a couple of interesting projects with the help of the Johannesburg fellow. They are working together on the development of a digital tool to identify trends and gaps on child reporting and a second project to analyse the influence of news outlets and individuals by analysing media trends and data from Twitter.
Within a short space of time, then, Code4SA has been able to provide its data fellows with varied experiences and exposure to different kinds of organisations who have worked on projects of real value. It’s an interesting model and could provide a model for other countries to replicate.