Kenya schooled the world on citizen engagement and peaceful participation in this year’s presidential elections, with an incredible 70+% turnout. Domestic journalists and citizens also turned out in droves on social media, as shown in Odipo Dev’s visual analysis, “The Kenyan Twittelection”. Meanwhile, citizens submitted election reports and issues via SMS to Ushahidi’s Uchaguzi platform. Election technology and foreign journalists were among the election’s sore losers. Robert Hunja and Felipe Estefan highlight the early progress of Kenya’s participation in the Open Government Partnership and the Open Data Initiative as reasons for optimism, but note that much more should be done, including in participatory budgeting and open contracting. The key now is to deepen the citizen engagement shown on election day to hold the new government to account.
While Kenya showcased the promise of citizen engagement, the US Government displayed politics at its worst with onset of sequestration on March 1. The impact on aid? Across the board cuts will translate into $1.7 billion less in foreign assistance this year from USAID and the State Department, though it remains to be seen exactly how those cuts will manifest.
#Women + #Data = #Smart Development
Data on women and girls—or the staggering lack thereof—was highlighted during this year’s International Women’s Day. The notion that girls and women can be the engines of development and poverty reduction is catching up to the painful truth that, really, we have a lot to learn about this constituency. To this end, the World Bank launched the Gender Innovation Lab to build the evidence base on what works in gender programming, alongside a new Africa Gender Action Plan for addressing inequality—complementing the new Gender Data Portal. Publish What You Fund reminded us that the International Aid Transparency Initiative provides a framework for better data on funding for women and girls. The Nike Foundation’s “Girl Effect” campaign uses stories and infographics to highlight data gaps and show us what we do know.
What’s more fun than data? Try Half the Sky’s new Facebook game which turns virtual contributions into real ones and aims to build a movement around gender equality.
Tools, Contests, & Events
Check out the new Open Development Technology Alliance (ODTA) portal featuring stories, events and news on the impact of technology on public service delivery.
Throw your best ideas into the ring with two new #OpenGov challenges underway—the Knight Foundation’s News Challenge to improve the interaction between citizens and government, and the Markets For Good challenge to turn “data islands” into data knowledge.
Vote for the best app to tackle sanitation issues in the Sanitation App Challenge. Ours goes to DG colleague Owen Scott’s #LionSync, which gives users real-time access to their data without an internet connection.
Americans, want a more informed voice in politics? Participate in Sunshine Week (March 10-16) discussions on improving public access to information.
This weekly update was written by Nancy McGuire Choi (@nmcchoi) of Development Gateway; email her for tips for next week's update to get a shout-out in the post.