Petit à petit: Progress toward the Mission’s Data Vision

The greatest feeling a GIS enthusiast can have is when colleagues express interest in geospatial data and realise the impact it can have on their work and their organisation. Encouraging staff to make use of this data can be difficult in a large government organisation. But, when folks from the various technical teams at the Mission learned about the geocoded activities dataset being created, they had big ideas for how it could improve their quarterly reporting, site selection, performance evaluation, coordination with other donors, and much more.

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Data in Dakar

Working at USAID is a whole new world. It is a massive organization that manages billions of dollars in aid per year. The Monitoring and Evaluation Team at USAID/Senegal has the (somewhat thankless) job of evaluating the success of these activities, across the Mission’s Health, Economic Growth, Education and Democracy offices. Part of my job here has been to get these offices to talk to each other.

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Settling in to Dakar

I have settled into my beautiful Dakarois apartment from which I walk to work at the U.S. Embassy each day. The embassy is located next to “Point des Almadies,” which is the westernmost point on the continent of Africa. The Mission is very friendly, and since being introduced at a town hall meeting, I am now a familiar face around the office. Progress on my scope of work is coming along, with the end goal of producing three datasets by the end of the summer. I am looking forward to geocoding the Mission’s activities because this is most attuned to my skill set. Until then, I am building a dataset of indicators that will hopefully make it easier for partners and offices to report targets and results in a consolidated and transparent way.

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Abstract: Geospatial data collection, storage, and analysis to inform USAID/Senegal CDCS process and Strategic Portfolio Reviews

Hi! My name is Catie and this summer I will be traveling to Dakar, Senegal to work with the USAID Mission’s Monitoring and Evaluation team. My responsibilities will be threefold: feasibility assessment/data collection, data storage, and data analysis. First I will be assessing the feasibility of geocoding the Mission’s projects, and then working with AidData to produce this data. Next I will develop data storage solutions so that the Mission can easily navigate and use their spatial data. Finally, I will work with the Monitoring and Evaluation team to perform covariate analysis on their geocoded data and evaluate their current projects. This research will be used to inform the Mission’s Country Development Cooperation Strategy and Strategic Portfolio Reviews.

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Reflections

Since my last blog post, I went on another field visit to Rufiji with JET (Journalists Environmental Association of Tanzania). There, we did some pretesting of our phone distribution and had a focus group with women from the region to learn more about their farming and how they might use mobile phones to improve their livelihoods. It was important to get a feel for any problems that could arise from mobile phone distribution: Would this cause conflict in the household? Would their friends become resentful or jealous? Would other village members be suspicious of where they received the phone? Ultimately, we found that these risks would be minimal because we are working with JET, who has an established relationship with these women through their community groups. We also pinned down specific ways that mobile phones can impact their farming and businesses: [Read more…]