Today was day one of the (first?) East Africa CSO forum, which will continue until Friday, with sharing of experience from colleagues in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia and South Sudan, plus non-east African interlopers from Malawi, Ghana, Switzerland and the UK.
A huge amount of ground was covered, shedding real light on some of the challenges facing advocates for water, sanitation and hygiene in the region. Some highlights (lowlights?) including buck-passing between government and donors for responsibility for commitments that have been made, lack of political space for civil society, and the ever present problem of poor data and opaque government processes, one area where hopefully WASHwatch can add some value.
Tomorrow I will be discussing the possibilities for open data to help these sector experts make the most of their breadth of experience and diverse experience.
In day 2 of the East Africa CSO WASH forum we had the opportunity to present the WASHwatch platform to all the delegates, and discuss how it might be used in different contexts.
This produced some great ideas for using the information and updating it in Rwanda and Uganda, as well as taking the opportunity for members of our community to raise challenges and concerns. One concern is the question of how the WASHwatch data is validated.
The analysis presented in WASHwatch is not independently validated, the ongoing discussion between civil society and government will keep improving the quality of data. The best way for CSOs to validate? Take the analysis to the minister, bring it to the attention of the Ministry of Finance, and see if they agree. If so, share this with the world by updating the site or the blog!
If the ministries disagree, this is a fantastic opportunity to demand that the government provide their own analysis, and supporting information, helping to open up the crucial information we need to hold people to account.
This discussion brought out the idea of having a ‘disclaimer’ on the front page, which is an idea we will follow up on in the next few weeks. We are clear what WASHwatch is, but we should also be clear what WASHwatch is NOT.
Disclaimer: WASHwatch.org is NOT the last word – it is always a work in progress.
This platform allows us to share our best analysis, based on the information we have available, and to have a structured, open space to discuss and improved it. It does not claim to be perfect, and if you spot errors, or have information that has not been taken into account, please do not hesitate to share it to improve the analysis – either register and leave a comment, or email firstname.lastname@example.org