We’re excited to share with everyone our first series of videos featuring our Open Data for Transparency (OD4Transparency) project! In the videos, our project partners – Perkumpulan IDEA, Pattiro Surakarta, INCITEGov, and E-Net Philippines – and the mentors talk about the experiences, learnings, and challenges they faced throughout the project in using open data to improve they way advocacy for financial transparency can be done.
The OD4Transparency project mentored civil society organisations – two from the Philippines, and two from Indonesia – in using open data to address a financial transparency issue that they have been working on in the past several years. As Michael Gurstein, international mentor for the project, framed:
“…I see…existing organisations that are already engaging quite effectively with government are being strengthened and given a whole new range of activities and areas of engagement with government through open data.”
In Yogyakarta in Indonesia, Perkumpulan IDEA has been engaged in budget advocacy and has been producing posters on the city budget for more than five years. The use of open data concepts, more particularly those related to the conversion of PDF files to ready-to-use formats for analysis, is one of the major changes for the organisation, cutting by up to 80% the time they needed to spend in converting paper files to tables and matrices for analysis. They also used in-house made and published newspapers to disseminate budget information, as well as having created an online portal that people can access to get budget information on the city. Talking about their campaign for the project, Tenti Kurniawati shared:
“Tanggapan masyarakat sangat positif, mereka menyambut baik langkah-langkah open data yang kita kembangkan…Bagi masyarakat itu sangat membantu untuk membaca anggaran karena dokumen anggaran itu hampir semua di atas 1000 halaman dan itu menyulitkan bagi mereka untuk membaca anggaran. (The public response was very positive; they (citizens) welcomed our open data activities…Our activities (made) budget documents more concise, easily accessible and understandable, thereby becoming beneficial to citizens. They are needed because budget documents usually consist of over 1000 pages each, and are very tedious to read.)”
In Kidapawan and Alamada in the Philippines, we trained and worked with our partner, E-Net Philippines. We enabled them to work with open data, and they focused their attention on monitoring the Special Education Fund (SEF)—funds allocated to supplement the needs of the public school system. E-Net helped the Ustadz, volunteer muslim teachers who offer religious instructions to children, to access, understand, and analyse SEF data from a government portal. These teachers realised that the SEF funds are available to fund priority education expenses and negotiated with the local government unit through the Local School Boards to have have their salaries and uniforms funded.
Dondon Parafina, OD4Transparency mentor for the Philippine-based organisations, aptly shares how open data impact should be not just about facts and figures but also the people:
“Fiscal transparency in the Philippines should not only be about numbers and should not only be about programs. It should be about results that really reach the beneficiaries, the people, the communities…The uniqueness of approaching this issue in the Philippines or anywhere where there is much development that is needed, is you have to prioritise people. You have to look at it from the perspective of the needs of the people, the interest of the people, and their capacity to really appreciate what the issue really is.”
Watch the videos from Perkumpulan IDEA, Pattiro Surakarta, INCITEGov, and E-Net Philippines, and the project mentors, to learn more about their insights and the added value open data brings to their work.
To know more about our activities, visit our projects page. You could also download our How-to Guide and Lessons Learned Paper from the OD4Transparency project, to find learn more about it. Lastly, our 2016 is filled with many more activities in the pipeline, so make sure you follow us on Twitter @ODLabJkt to keep track of what’s to come!