The Kenya Open Data Initiative and HDX: Fellow travelers on the road to open data

The Kenya Open Data Initiative (KODI) was launched in July 2011 by the then President of Kenya, Mr. Mwai Kibaki. The initiative was the first-of-its-kind in the developing world and has since received wide acclaim for improving public access to government data. Today, KODI is launching a redesigned platform to showcase over 500 datasets covering demographics, education, economics, health, and infrastructure, among other topics.

The Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) team set up a Data Lab in Nairobi, Kenya in late 2014 to offer data services to partners and to connect data from across the region. We knew we had a lot to learn about the local data ecosystem. A natural starting point was to align ourselves with the KODI team, in particular Linet Kwamboka the project coordinator.

Over the past eight months, the partnership has expanded to include data sharing and an alliance around community building. HDX holds 41 datasets from the KODI collection. These datasets were selected for their relevance to humanitarian work. To make the data more accessible to HDX users, we have created a number of visuals showing the trends for school enrollment, immunization rates, and sanitation across counties in Kenya (see below).

Thanks to pointers from the KODI team, a number of civil society organizations have joined HDX to share data. This includes openAfrica and Twaweza East Africa. We have also attended KODI-hosted events where we have met collaborators such as the ICT Centre of Excellence and Open Data from the Jomo Kenyatta University, Techsoup Global, Development Research and Training (Uganda), and the Development Initiatives Kenya team.

I recently interviewed Linet Kwamboka for a short film HDX is making on the state of humanitarian data (to be released later in the year). Take a look at this excerpt of our conversation and maybe you will catch her excitement about the future of open data.

Video footage shot by Michael Chung in Nairobi, Kenya, May 2015.

HDX looks forward to continued collaboration with KODI, especially in creating more impact with data and growing the Kenyan data science community. I have been watching how Kenya’s entrepreneurs are building innovative applications using open government data. For instance, MedAfrica’s efforts to make health information available through mobile devices. I hope we can start to make similar advances with humanitarian data in the near future.

Get in touch with HDX through hdx@un.org or reach us on Twitter at @humdata.