Sharpening The Axe: NBD Trains Technical Support Experts on Citizen Science to enhance grassroots participation in inclusive policy formulation processes
Published: 26 August 2021
"Many dimensions of data is missing to effectively support inclusive policy formulation. It is the duty of Civil society to map that data. That is the way NBD gives back to the countries; We are not part of conflicts, but part of a win-win solution" Prof. Muawia Hamid SHADDAD
Data is an integral part of every sector in the global economy - Civil Society inclusive. One of NBD's core objectives of Influencing inclusive policy development for equitable utilization and sustainable management of Nile Basin resources highly relies on knowledge and information from communities, and specifically the indigenous grassroots people. Collecting, synthesising, and presenting of reliable, and inclusive citizen science data like any other data requires skilled personnel.
From 4th to 9th August 2021, NBD trained its National Technical Support Experts (NTSEs) on Citizen Science: including techniques and tools for collecting, analysing, synthesizing, and presenting of citizen data; equipping them with skills to adequately reach grassroots communities to source relevant data to support NBD’s advocacy for inclusive policy formulation.
Held in Arusha - Tanzania with strict observation of Standard Operating Procedures for preventing the spread of COVID-19, the training was attended by NTSEs from 9 National Nile Discourse Forums (NDFs) of Burundi, DRC, Egypt, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.
While opening the 6-days training, the NBD Board Chairperson Prof. Muawia Hamid SHADDAD implored participants to take heed in the values and reasons for NBDs existence; to use the training outcomes as a stepping stone to further NBD’s mandate by filling gaps of missing but very significant data from grassroots communities. In his words: "Many dimensions of data is missing to effectively support inclusive policy formulation. It is the duty of Civil Society to map that data. That is the way NBD gives back to the countries; we are not part of conflicts but part of a win-win solution."
Warmly welcoming participants to Tanzania, the NBD Secretary General Mr. Donald Kasongi also inspired them to maximise the training opportunity, and hoped that by the end of the training, they would come out as Citizen Scientists with skills to enhance the performance of their duties. The NBD Regional Manager Dr. Hellen Natu expounded on the need for the training, hinting to participants that grassroots data is already on demand by stakeholders and decision makers, and the skills to be attained from their training will soon be required during NBD’s participation in NBI’s NCCR project - specifically on collecting grassroots data for Early Warning Systems on floods.
The consultant/lead-trainer Bernard Twinomugisha tipped participants on the first skill for researchers; “always take note and keep records”. The topics covered in the training include: Conceptualisation of Citizen Science; Sampling Design & Sample Size Determination; Citizen Data Collection Methods, Approaches & Tools; Citizen Data Analyses & Synthesis; and Roles of Citizen Data in Policy Formulation.
The training was highly participatory and practical, including a field study visit to communities around IIboru - Sinoni River in the city of Arusha; giving participants real life scenarios of data collection from the grassroots communities. Participants collected data, analysed it and made presentations on their findings. At the end of the training, participants were awarded Certificates in recognition of their exceptional participation and completion of the course.
NTSEs are technical personnel based at the 10 NDF secretariats, and are pivotal to NBD Network’s role of an independent multi-directional platform for information flow amongst stakeholders in the Nile Basin; they are the “ears on the ground” for the “Bottom-Up” communication pipeline, scoping out issues emanating from the grassroots communities and the NBD Network’s CSO membership.
Continuous improvement is part of NBDs work ethic; increasing the skills, knowledge, attitudes, and efficiency of the NTSEs in relation to their work is akin to “sharpening the axe” in preparation for a sharper cutting. NBD is confident that the skills attained by the participants at the training will tremendously enhance NBD’s access to citizen science data to facilitate advocacy for inclusive policy formulation.
The training is implemented under NBD’s Engaging Civil Society for Social and Climate Resilience in the Nile Basin Project. The project is funded by the Cooperation in International Waters in Africa (CIWA).