Built on momentum of Kenya’s Open Data Initiative which publicizes over 400 government data sets online, Code4Kenya brought together fellows as intermediaries for citizen engagement to help the media translate the data into stories and services that are relevant to all Kenyans. The fellows also helped the media open up their own data.
During the program’s duration, four Fellows were embedded in one civil society organization and three media organizations. Working with a team of four software developers, they each worked to build service around key thematic issues. In the initial phase, focus themes were water, education and health, with cross-cutting issues including public financial management and counties/local government data. Host organizations and fellows conducted a close consultation process with members of thematic expert working groups who provided insight into specific use cases and technical insight into available data resources. Led by a Project Manager, the team of eight worked closely with their host organizations to identify opportunities for innovation with open data, identify the right technology solutions, build them out, test and launch.
A total of eight projects were designed and launched by the Code4Kenya team during the program period in addition to the establishment of data divisions/units within the host organizations and securing commitments from the host organizations to publish their own data on dedicated portals. This has resulted in the first corporate open data portals on the continent and the introduction of a valuable element, which was until now, missing within the open data ecosystem.
With open data as a foundation, Code4Kenya is currently planning a second yearlong class of fellows to launch in September 2013 focused on responsive service delivery. Kenya’s new constitution mandates a significant shift of financial management and public service delivery from the center of government to the local level. This will require leadership dedicated to building new local institutions as well as an active civic society and media landscape to keep these leaders accountable to the public. Both sides will need tools and processes to improve the free flow of information and fix the governance bottlenecks that prevent access by citizens to critical public services.