EN: Subnational Engagement – Understanding and Meeting Community Needs

man meetings

In order to understand distinct local challenges and design relevant solutions to address those challenges, community members themselves should be the first resource. At its core, DCDJ aims to ensure youth, women, and other marginalized groups can access quality services through data use. And to accomplish this goal of increasing data use to improve lives, building understanding, buy-in, and relationships across subnational communities is essential for success. We are laying the groundwork to map data flows at the subnational level , identify barriers to data access and use and using data to solve problems that are important to the communities we work with. 


DCDJ is working with priority stakeholders in six focus areas to understand how the current data ecosystems do – or do not – meet the community’s actual needs. We kicked off our first 6-day DCDJ subnational engagement trip in Man last week, to build knowledge, understanding, and a strong outline for priorities moving forward. In Man, Daloa, Bouake, San Pedro, and two neighborhoods of Abidjan, we’re leveraging our expansive networks and deep experience at the subnational level to understand key actors, identify challenges, and possible solutions to bringing about effective data use.


In Man, our first set of meetings focused on local authorities across levels and local ministries, including the prefect , highest government representative in the region , representative from the Ministry of Planning, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and INS (National institute of health ). We discussed DCDJ objectives and set a positive tone for future engagement. We then met with NGOs and CSOs, including women’s organizations and youth-focused organizations.


In both sets of meetings, our partners were able to quickly understand the DCDJ context, and link it to their own objectives. Key points gathered in Man across both sets of meetings include:


  • Data should be accessible and useful to everyone. Through DCDJ subnational activities, we’re looking to break down the myth that data must mean statistics, and statistics must mean inaccessible, hard-to-understand information.


  • A strong subnational understanding of DCDJ is valuable moving forward. At the end of our meetings, communities understood DCDJ, its objectives, and the impact it could have on overall development of the region. Local leaders (including the Prefet, the highest regional government representative) are confident in the project, and can clearly communicate DCDJ’s impact themselves – subnational communities are engaged and interested in next steps.


  • Priorities of NGOs and CSOs in the region differ, and will be addressed individually. In conducting a “deep dive” into DCDJ with the CSOs and NGOs present, we were able to understand their priorities – and how they are similar to and different from the priorities of government officials.


  • Challenges exist in attaining data. The national statistics office (INS) representative present shared challenges on getting data from the local statistics office, what that process looks like for them, and how we can help address it.


  • Within the NGO group, different organizations have different priorities. For example, women’s organizations expressed that many of their members are illiterate, and thought that they might not be able to benefit from data use – but we were able to address education level and how data for decision making is beneficial for all education levels.


Our team will be conducting subnational activities in Daloa next, and we are looking forward to gathering more insights in each focus region and building DCDJ communications at the subnational level. Most importantly, we’ll be emphasizing the importance of data in decision making in each Project Presentation workshop, and continuing to lay groundwork for future DCDJ subnational activities.


Keep up with DCDJ on Twitter at @DCDJCI, on our Facebook page, or on LinkedIn! And stay tuned for more blog posts on our engagement both at national and subnational level, to continue integrating data into decision making.