Data Africa | The Webby Awards
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Webby for Good is a collaborative program formed by The Webby Awards and WP Engine to showcase Webby-recognized projects built to change the world.

Describe your Webby-nominated project. What’s the elevator pitch?

Data Africa is an open-source data visualization engine that tells stories around agriculture, climate, poverty, and health.

Why this particular cause as the subject of your project/campaign? Was there a moment that inspired it?

Jawoo Koo of IFPRI was sitting in a meeting with a panel of policy analysts in the Ministry of Agriculture in Tanzania. The meeting discussed opportunities for effective agricultural investments in different parts of the country. The discussion often stopped around simple questions such as: “what’s the most important crop in this province?” or “where should we focus on the nutrition program?” People cited data from many well-known global databases, but those were only providing national-level data, which wasn’t as helpful for an in-country policy discussion. Jawoo recognized the need for an easy-to-use source and came across Datawheel's work on Data USA. That was the "aha!" moment.

What concerns were there about pursuing this idea? How did you get past them?

We recognize there’s a consistent investment needed to keep all the data up to date, expand the country coverage, and add more thematic areas. We receive many requests from our audience to address these, but we currently do not have enough resources to meet all the demand. In some countries, underlying data is just fundamentally lacking.

What was the most rewarding aspect of working on your project? What did you learn in the process that you didn't know/expect going into it?

The most rewarding part of our projects is the launch. It is so rewarding to see people use the site and enjoy using it.

What real-world impact were you hoping to make with this project? Did the real-world impact meet your expectations?

We developed Data Africa for a wide range of audiences, even non-technical users, through easily accessible visual narratives. For the real-world impact, we especially targeted the policy analysts in the government agencies of our focus countries who frequently need more detailed (subnational) understanding of where the country and its subnational units stand to make the most effective policy and investment decisions.

About the Government & Civil Innovation category

Sites providing information and services pertaining to government matters. These include sites that enable online citizen action, offer self-help information, publish government documents and forms, and provide access to services provided by government agencies.