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Asia Foundation’s Political Economy of Data Workshop at Global Digital Development Forum

May 15, 2020 — The international development community is adapting to the new challenges and opportunities presented by a growing digital ecosystem and digital data. As part of the Global Digital Development Forum virtual conference on May 6, The Asia Foundation hosted the “Not a Drop to Drink: Towards a Political Economy of Data in Asia” workshop. The Global Digital Development Forum was presented by USAID, Digital Impact Alliance, Chemonics, Save the Children, IntraHealth International, Catholic Relief Services, and TechChange.

Digital ecosystem and implementation methodologies will continue to accelerate change with significant impacts on development efforts, including across the Asia region. Focusing on a data policy framework, the political economy of data workshop featured development experts from Foundation offices and programs in Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar, and India. Participants presented on-the-ground experiences, including developing open data frameworks in Nepal, crowdsourcing data in India, and human centered design in Myanmar.

The central theme of the workshop explored the politics of building and strengthening data ecosystems for evidence-based policy decisions, and discussed key findings learned from projects across Asia, including lessons on:

  • Expanding local ownership on data-driven development
  • Preparing for delayed resistance – “what happens when the seduction fades”
  • Demonstrating wins from bottom-up initiatives
  • Nudging users towards data literacy
  • Managing institutional politics and what happens when hierarchies are disrupted
  • Allowing for failures to inform adaptive design

The political economy of data ecosystems is an area The Asia Foundation is exploring, along with its role as a regional data intermediary. The workshop was a learning and sharing platform for development practitioners especially as they navigate local data ecosystems in their work, what approaches they use to build stakeholder engagement in the potential of data and tech for development, and what other challenges they have faced.

The Asia Foundation will launch a broader webinar series to further explore data for policy and data for development trends in the coming months.

The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia. Informed by six decades of experience and deep local expertise, our work across the region addresses five overarching goals strengthen governance, empower women, expand economic opportunity, increase environmental resilience, and promote regional cooperation.

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Related locations: India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam
Related topics: Open Data, Urban Governance

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Media contact

Eelynn Sim, Director, Strategy and Programs
[email protected]

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