Final thoughts and thanks

For my final Charles Center blog post, I’d like to invite you to check out my Medium blog post on my experience as an AidData Summer Fellow at UNICEF Uganda. You’ll see lots of pictures and some of my takeaways from working on data in the field.

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Piloting an experiment in the field

One of my final activities for the summer was assisting in a pilot research project using crowdsourced data. U-report is a UNICEF tool for gathering citizen feedback on what’s happening at the community level. Using this free SMS-based system, U-reporters send in both unsolicited information and responses to polls asking about service provision and soliciting other community information. Development partners and local leaders can then use this crowdsourced data to take citizen voices into account as they make decisions. The hope is that this will help complete the feedback loop between donors, government officials, and community stakeholders.

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The U-report team goes to Karamoja

One of the highlights of my time in Uganda was hosting a conference with the U-report team to introduce district government and civil society organizations to crowdsourced data. It took a full day’s drive to reach Moroto, in Karamoja (the northeastern region of Uganda). Though it was known for a history of violence, the area is now experiencing peace and growth. The leaders we met from Abim and Moroto districts were very receptive to incorporating U-report data into their decision-making processes.

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How would you like your data? Learning how to best present citizen feedback data back to the “crowd”

Note: A version of this post will appear on AidData’s blog, The First Tranche.

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Organizations of all sizes making an impact in Uganda

One question I’ve pondered frequently is the tradeoff between working with smaller vs. larger organizations. While being a member of a small team allows you to have greater autonomy and responsibility, you may find your capacity and influence limited. The bureaucratic structure of big organizations may lead to inefficiency, though the weight and experience of a large institution can help you accomplish larger projects. Luckily, this summer, I didn’t have to choose: as an AidData Summer Fellow placed at UNICEF Uganda, I gained valuable experience working in an international NGO’s large country office while being supported by a small team at AidData in Williamsburg and Development Gateway in D.C.

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