Calling all map nerds!

A month into my fellowship at CERSGIS in Accra, Ghana, we are hitting the ground running. We are beginning to lead professional trainings in GIS (Geographic Information Systems) at the National Development Planning Commission, which will be the main focus of the rest of our time here in Accra. GIS is a digital system that allows the user to perform advanced spatial analysis and ultimately create maps that make what otherwise might be overwhelmingly complicated data more accessible to policymakers, planners, researchers, or consumers.

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Putting Uganda on the Map

It is hard to believe that I have been in Uganda for three weeks today! Kampala has become home, HOT colleagues have become friends, and the other AidData Summer Fellows have become family.

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Accra: Where Innovation and Tradition Meet

I am thoroughly enjoying my first few weeks here in Accra, Ghana! Besides everything being coated in a thin layer of red- orange dust, the first thing that I noticed about Accra was the smell. The smoke from cooking fires, burning insecticide, and exhaust is striking- not at all unpleasant, but unlike anywhere I have ever been. I’m greeted by this new smell every morning as I walk across the campus at the University of Ghana, Legon. Women sing as they slice fresh watermelon, pineapple, and mango at the market stands that litter campus, taxi’s honk politely to make their presence known, and in the distance you can hear the sound of the main highway that will take you into the center of the city of Accra. I take the dusty orange paths past tall palm trees that tower over the white-washed buildings with terra-cotta roofs.

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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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