This week, as part of the Responsible Data for Children initiative (RD4C), the GovLab and UNICEF launched a new case study series to provide insights on promising practice as well as barriers to realizing responsible data for children.
Drawing upon field-based research and established good practice, RD4C aims to highlight and support responsible handling of data for and about children; identify challenges and develop practical tools to assist practitioners in evaluating and addressing them; and encourage a broader discussion on actionable principles, insights, and approaches for responsible data management.
RD4C launched in October 2019 with the release of the RD4C Synthesis Report, Selected Readings, and the RD4C Principles: Purpose-Driven, People-Centric, Participatory, Protective of Children’s Rights, Proportional, Professionally Accountable, and Prevention of Harms Across the Data Lifecycle.
The RD4C Case Studies analyze data systems deployed in diverse country environments, with a focus on their alignment with the RD4C Principles. This week’s release includes case studies arising from field missions to Romania, Kenya, and Afghanistan in 2019. The data systems examined are:
The Aurora Project is a child protection platform developed by UNICEF Romania in collaboration with NGO and government partners. The system enables social workers and community health care providers to diagnose and monitor vulnerabilities experienced by children and their families. Through the administration of a child protection questionnaire, the system supports the determination of a minimum package of services needed by children and their families. It also enables child protection evaluation and planning work at the national level. The Aurora Project reflects many of the RD4C Principles through its collection of data for clear and well- defined purposes and the various training and guidance materials provided to users. UNICEF Romania and counterparts in the Romanian Government are still working to address challenges related to sensitive group data and the potential for disproportionate data collection and retention.
Childline Kenya is a helpline offering services for children subjected to violence or neglect. Since it began operations in 2006, trained counselors have responded to calls, logged major components for reporting purposes, and redirected callers to relevant services. The organization emphasizes training and the rights of children while ensuring its data collection is proportional and purpose-driven. Given the sensitivity of its work, it faces some difficulties with duplicative and complex data.
Afghanistan’s Nutrition Online Database is a web-based information system providing access to aggregated nutrition data to inform planning and service delivery at the national, provincial, and zonal level. The Public Nutrition Department (PND) within the Afghanistan Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) leads database management, with UNICEF Afghanistan acting as the lead technical developer and providing ongoing technical support. The system exists because missed use of potentially valuable data is a common challenge across the children’s data ecosystem Afghanistan. The Nutrition Online Database tries to spur the use of existing and newly developed nutrition data streams that otherwise might not inform potentially life saving nutrition planning and service delivery. It is the product of a participatory development process with key stakeholders across sectors and actors within beneficiary communities. PND, UNICEF Afghanistan, and other stakeholders support professionally accountable data use through training efforts and working groups but remain challenged by the fragmentation of nutrition systems, mandates, formats, and indicators. These factors could contribute to challenges
in tracking decision-making processes affecting data responsibility across the nutrition data ecosystem.