6 Things to Consider when Planning to start a Social Accountability Movement

As a civil society organization, or individual, mobilizing citizens to make sure public services providers are accountable, you must also be transparent and accountable. The morals we hope to see exhibited by our government must also be shown by your organization or, you as an individual. This includes making your budget available online, filing tax returns when due, conducting audit reports within your organizations. The best practice is to make it available to your members, and your government.

Non-Technology means are still the most effective for demanding accountability from public service providers. Organizing town hall meetings, attending quarterly parliamentary meetings, memo submission to parliamentarians, attending public hearing discussions should be considered as part of your activities. Highlights from all nine organizations, interviewed for the handbook, ascertained that these traditional methods are at the core of their work.

The combination of offline (Print, Radio, TV) and online technologies such as Facebook and Twitter are very important for organizations working around social accountability. If social accountability is about the real citizen’s voice, then your campaigns should take cognizance of communities that cannot be reached online but through offline means.

Instead of building new tools, collaborate with existing organizations working on social accountability. This may also include making your initiative work with established workers unions, community associations, and other civil society organizations (CSOs) working in the same space. Think of partnering with CSOs from neighbouring countries as well, aiding cross-border collaboration.

The use of these technologies should consider how the government will be able to respond to citizens voice been amplified. Some of the success stories were influenced by the creation of partnerships with government agencies. If possible, partner with government anti-corruption agencies in your country.

Create a partnership with Independent media organizations or trusted traditional media organizations in the broadcast and print. While there is free access to the new media, there is great need to take into consideration the followership garnered by existing broadcast and print media entities.

Want to use Tech for Accountability? Listen to What the Spirit are Saying

In my handbook – Accountability Technologies, I got insights from diverse civil society enthusiasts and organisations in West Africa about what to consider when thinking of creating the next app to ensure public service providers are accountable.

Context matters – high-tech approaches do not work in low-tech environments. This means we have to redefine what civic technology means. These can include radio, murals, town hall meetings, etc…  Ecosystems matter too – deploying technology for civil movements is not just about individual efforts but building platforms for government to better engage citizens in improving the effectiveness of government and the participation of citizens.

iCampus, Liberia

Technology can only strengthen an already sound strategy for promoting accountability. Develop a plan and then consider if digital technology would be beneficial.

The Engine Room, Sierra Leone and Nigeria

I would advise to partner tightly with media organizations (radio!) in the country to gather reports and to build campaigns about accountability issues. Also, open as many channels of reporting as possible to reach a wider audience (WhatsApp, Facebook, SMS, email). Coordinate your work with other NGOs/CSOs not to overwhelm citizens with multiple campaigns.

United Nations University Institute for Computing and Society, Ghana, Liberia and Nigeria

Don’t use a tech tool just because others are doing so. Understand your terrain and what works for you. Then make the best use of what works. In our work, we have found that Radio, Twitter and print media has served us well and we’ve leveraged these platforms to gain visibility and influence with our audiences.

Policy Alert: The Grassroots People Empowerment Foundation, Nigeria

Identify the technologies that are most used in the country. For example in Côte d’Ivoire, Facebook is a leader in mobilizing social media. Twitter comes next with regard to mobilization.

Social Justice, Cote d’Ivoire

The NGO or civic movement has to develop or use technologies that are not confusing to use. This will ensure that all layers of target groups are able to participate in the initiative or activity. It is also important to know which alternative digital technologies or methods of communication are being developed alongside the proposed digital technologies. This is to enable those without access to the proposed technologies to also participate within the initiative and by so doing, increase the overall impact of the initiative.

Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development, Nigeria

Consider blending offline and online technologies, since technology only serves as an enabler to the social interaction. There is also need to put in a place an action plan to execute engagements rather than ad-hoc communication (information sharing and interactions)

Odekro, Ghana

NGOs/CSOs need to utilize radio more frequently in mobilizing citizens especially those in the rural areas. They should be relentless in engaging both government and citizens on various social media platforms, especially Twitter and Facebook as these tools are gaining more traction in several African countries including Nigeria. Email can also be used for targeted campaigns.

Paradigm Leadership Support Initiative (PLSI), Nigeria

Civic campaigns depend on the communities you are going to be working with. Research the communities and see what works.

Organization for Women and Children, Liberia

The use of radio, especially those in local languages, are crucial to reach rural communities. This is more efficient than elitist-styled social media campaigns.

Connected Development, Nigeria

Organizations that use digital technologies for their campaigns should use social media, particularly Facebook, which is very well known by West African populations. Many young people are registered, and the platform makes it possible to reach a broader audience.

Forum de la société civile de l’Afrique de l’Ouest de Côte d’Ivoire (FOSCAO-CI), Cote d’Ivoire

Consider your audience – their literacy level and demography.

BudgIT Nigeria

Consider user needs when designing technology.

Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), Nigeria

The solution should have an audio or video component that would help illiterate people to connect quickly. It is also important to use a combination of solutions (including the most traditional ones) and not limiting to one only. Technology adoption will be gradual.

Afrik Poll, Mali

Who Is the Oldest President in West Africa?

The 17 countries in West Africa has a population of 374, 691, 249, and the median age of citizen in these countries remain at 18. But what’s the age of their leaders? As at October 9, 2017, the average age of the leaders of all West African countries stands at 65. That’s 17 years older than the moribund Transrapid 449km/hour train used in Germany between 1969 and 2008! Alpha Conde of Guinea, a country with a population of 12 million, remains the oldest West African president. Faura Gnasibe of Togo, at 51, is the youngest president in West Africa.

3 Lessons Nigeria Can Learn from Turkey to Meet Its Energy Needs!

South Africa has three times, the total electricity generation capacity of all the 18 countries in West Africa! Currently, the electricity sector in the West Africa States provides power supply to only about 30% of the population. The region’s maximum load is just above 10,000 MW as against a total energy demand of approximately 50,000 GWh, out of which over 85% is accounted for in the three primary electricity exporting countries (Nigeria, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire), with nearly 57 % for Nigeria alone. Are solutions far-fetched?

1. Political will is essential. It will take fifteen years to get power to every household in the country. Nigeria, which has 60% of the total population of West Africa will need 200,000 MW for its growing population. With lessons from Turkey, it took them 14 years to add 42,000MW to their electricity generation capacity, to make it to the present 70,000MW. Consequently, reforms such as recasting of the earlier players involved in the privatisation deals. The Ministry of Power itself would need to invest in long years of capacity building and sophisticated information technology systems that will avail it proper monitoring and implementation mechanisms. The Ministry might also want to do away with the numbers of regulatory agencies involved in the market presently. In doing this, the government would have built credibility for private investors.

It will take fifteen years to get power to every household in the country if reforms is focused on capacity to implement.

2. Open The Market. The present framework which states that investors should return a certain percentage to the grid might be a turn in the neck for business. Gas and Coal will be dominant technologies by 2040. So, why not allow investors to propose the energy mix they will be involved in, while the Ministry of Environment intervene in making sure proper Environmental Impact Assessment is done. The present grid system needs to be overhaul as there are several deficiencies in the system and infrastructures that power it. For instance, estate associations can decide to contribute and develop their energy system, while the government focuses on generating revenue in the form of tax from such arrangement. Community associations can as well agree on affordable electricity generating systems that government can advise on.

3. The Demand Side Myth. Private investors will only survive in cities like Lagos, Abuja, Portharcourt, Abia and Kano. This is where you have the semi-urban centres of Nigeria, and also where industries are, as such, they have people that can actually pay for power. What happens to the remaining 120 million? 80% of them live under the poverty line, and might not be able to afford to pay power bills. From lessons from the present privatization, it will be advisable for the government to focus on such communities, while it leaves private sectors to operate in the semi-urban centres. Also, citizens should know that they must protect the present infrastructures from vandals. They were all constructed using our money collected as tax, bills and rates.

No doubt. There is a direct correlation between economic growth and electricity supply. If Nigeria is to fulfil its promise of the present Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, and West Africa is to deliver on its Economic Community of West African States Power Pool, it needs power—and lots of it. What do you think?

“Strinkwishism” – The Act of Embedding Fellows in Organizations to Build Organizational Capacities around Open Data

[This blog was originally posted on the Open Knowledge International Blog]

Recognizing that capacity building is central to economic growth, reductions in poverty and equal opportunities, Open Knowledge International with the support of the Open Data for Development (OD4D) Network is expanding its work with civil society organisations (CSOs) through the Embedded Fellowship Programme.

In the last three months, I worked as an embedded fellow, consulting with Women Environmental Programme (WEP), by sharing data skills, and working on a data project with the team in their Nigeria office. The timing seems right. Not only is the information revolution upon us but trends towards democratization, government decentralization and economic liberalization have profoundly reshaped how universities, NGOs and other public-interest organizations do their work, thus, presenting them with new challenges and opportunities.

Getting to Know the Team

But how has it been like, working with Women Environment Programme in the last few months? WEP works basically on women’s empowerment across the world, and as their name implies, most of their work is focused on advocacy for women. I spent 2 hours highlighting what the needs were for a data project, and for sustainability reasons, I developed a questionnaire to ascertain the level of knowledge and skills of the team I will be working within days to come.

In human capacity building, we refer to this as a bottom-up approach. Ninety percent of the staff mentioned that they wanted to learn more about PDF extraction. Simple right? That’s what you get from questionnaires, but in the real world, while I was conducting training, they found out that they needed more, and you know what more means in the short time-frame of 6 weeks? Information overload! Here’s a brief look at the topics we covered and the feedback we received.

Exposing the Wealth of Open Tools

While highlighting data projects we could work on, such as creating advocacy products from citizen surveys, I was focused on getting some of the team members to be able to use some of the tools I introduced them to – Timeline.js for creating project or campaign timelines; Infogr.am for creating visualizations; Google Fusion Tables for publishing; licensing data using Creative Commons; Google Form for Surveys, using the Kobo Toolbox; analyzing and visualizing qualitative data using Wordle and a bunch of tools that can save them time in achieving their various tasks.

What did I get from working with them on using some of these tools? “Strinkwish” as some of the staff will say, as we engaged in hands-on training on each tool. During one of the sessions, I had to ask, and they told me it’s an organizational coined word, meaning extraordinaire! Hope you also have an organizational dictionary.

With Gai Cliff, The Senior Programmes Officer at WEP

Evaluating the effects of capacity development, such as this, is not straightforward and the short- and longer-term perspectives need to be considered.In the short term though, staff mentioned how this has been helpful in their work:

“I am so excited that I could quickly use Tabula to extract pdf files, and also create a visualization for qualitative analysis”, Evelyn Ugbe, a Programmes Officer at WEP said as she was working on her new report on women advocacy.

With hands-on training like this, one cannot really measure the level of impact until you ask what participants have learnt, and I was amazed by the response of the staff after having 3 sessions with them. Another comment from staff member Emmanuel  sheds light on the organisational-level improvements:

“It’s such a  right time to have you. I am head of human resources and using Google Drive, coupled with the Google Fusion Tables had made my task easier, especially that I have been able to create a collaborative way, of getting feedback from staff”.

So in the short term, increases in knowledge and skills can be measured and in the longer term, one can measure whether people are doing things differently as a result of the capacity building by applying the skills they learned. I will be looking out for this, in the coming months.

The three levels of capacity development (Adapted from UNDP, 1997)

Building Infrastructural Capacity Building is Paramount

With my experience of training and coaching staff and individuals, I have come to realize that skills and knowledge of trainees might not be enough, especially when it is within an organization: the system development capacity and organizational development capacity (described above) are more important and often unrecognised. As such, I was not surprised at times when some hands-on sessions became frustrating for the team because of the unreliable and slow internet. At one point I needed to bring my internet router, so I could get my rhythm on. Also, when one of the staff members, Elizabeth, tells me her computer just keeps going off because her laptop battery isn’t working and power isn’t stable, I was drawn to how critical infrastructural efficiency lies at the foundation of successful open data capacity building.


I was also able to identify that WEP needs a simple and slick website together with an email hosting service that allows staff to easily exchange information for its kind of work. Gai Cliff, a Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at WEP asked in one of the sessions about one of the those I had introduced to them, “So how do we get the paid version, we are limited to some added functionality. Do you always get this when you do hands-on training using open-source tools?”. I had this several times! I like the fact that we had some talks about this challenges, and how going forward this can be sorted so we can easily publish some of the advocacy works I will be producing from the data projects.

What’s Next?

“Olu, we will love to continue this in the coming year so you can produce our advocacy materials. These sessions have been helpful for my team, and also that you can play an advisory role on the organizational capacity development”, Priscilla Achakpa, the Chief Executive Officer at WEP mentioned. “Absolutely” I replied while thinking of my calendar for the first quarter of the coming year, and also visualizing the support each of the staff had requested for, which I think could do well to accomplish the long term goals of this fellowship, and as such, ensuring the 1,110 minutes committed to this first phase, can become sustainable!



So what’s the fuss about this #Opendata party in the South South of Nigeria – It will be held in one of the cleanest city in Africa  Calabar, and will be hosted in a state that has the most comforting tourist attraction in West Africa – the Obudu Mountain Resort! If you think there is another like it in the region, please comment below 😉 and one other thing about Calabar is the attributes to their women, and just for clarification – Calabar remains the capital city of Cross River State.

Right on time at the popular Mirage Hotel on October 15, 2014 was the Open data party that had 15 participants from different NGOs, citizens and this time we had some government officials – thus making it interesting. Whenever you have these three groups locked on a round table – questions like: why didn’t you make the data available, why didn’t  you reply our FOIA, didn’t we make funding available for you to monitor, what happened to all the international aid you get, all come up, and as a facilitator – you are lost!

With my experience teaching data with NGOs, journalists and citizens, it is still clear that few of the practitioners know where even the little data available is hidden online. “It is appalling that we all here don’t know where the federal government budget is being published” affirmed Onoche Mokwunye. I get this answer often in all my sessions, which makes us conclude at times that the simple skill of finding data (secondary) itself and what their interest was in data, remains important.

In trying to figure out what kind of data they were interested in 40% of the participants were interested in budget data of the country; 30% were interested in contract data  (in essence, the issue of money, and how it’s been used is important), while the remaining 30% was shared amongst election data, environmental data, infrastructure data, and transport data (which seems not to be available). Going forward did they really know where to find this data? KNOW! Well, it will be important to state that the Nigerian government has recently focused on some open data initiatives, even though it is not as if these portals make data available in machine readable format.

One may think, since we wouldn’t know where to find, or how to get the data, analyzing data might be a great challenge, of course NO! This group had great knowledge of diving into excel spreadsheets – maybe I knew only one way of handling some task before, now I learnt two more ways – that was the most interesting part of this data party! So what else, how do we present this datasets using several visualizations and infographic. “I have seen several colourful visualizations (online) that people in our communities cannot relate with, as such we still need to break it down in the language they will understand (offline) – maybe that’s an added task for us” explained Benny from AfterSchool Peer Mentoring Project

Just before the end of the sessions, participants already concluded to have another 2-day Open Data Party,, while they declared having step down training in their own communities. When our Open Data party ends within 8 hours, participants are at times heartbroken! “Are we going to continue tomorrow, I seem to be an information and skill overload in a short time” – mentioned Ndoma Mayor in a phone call with me. Truly, does our party end in 8 hours? What happens to the” party” behind Open data – we always rock the club, after all, we are in Calabar, where the female become goddess at night! And if you want to know where our next open data party will be happening: most definitely – Abuja, No thanks to Connected Development [CODE] and Indigo Trust UK

– See more at: http://schoolofdata.org/2014/10/28/catch-us-if-you-can-the-opendata-party-moves-to-calabar/#sthash.Edn8fXTa.dpuf


If the only news you have been watching or listening to about Northern Nigeria is of the Boko Haram violence in that region of Nigeria, then you need to know that other news exist, like the non-government organizations and media, that are interested in using the state and federal government budget data in monitoring service delivery, and making sure funds promised by government reach the community it was meant for.
This time around, the #OpenData party moved from the Nigeria Capital – Abuja to Gusau, Zamfara and was held at the Zamfara Zakat and Endowment Board Hall between Thursday, 25 and Friday, 26, 2014. With 40 participant all set for this budget data expedition, participants included the state Budget Monitoring Group (A coalition of NGOs in Zamfara) coordinated by the DFID (Development for International Development) State Accountability and Voice Initiative (SAVI),other international NGOs such as Society for Family Health (SFH), Save the Children, amongst others.

Group picture of participants at the #OpenData Party in Zamfara
But how do you teach data and its use in a less-technology savvy region? We had to de-mystify teaching data to this community, by engaging in traditional visualization and scraping – which means the use of paper artworks in visualizing the data we already made available on the Education Budget Tracker. “I never believed we could visualize the education budget data of the federal government as easy as what was on the wall” exclaimed Ahmed Ibrahim of SAVI

Visualization of the Education Budget for Federal Schools in Zamfara
As budgets have become a holy grail especially with state government in Nigeria, of most importance to the participants on the first day, was how to find budget data, and processes involved in tracking if services were really delivered, as promised in the budget. Finding the budget data of the state has been a little bit hectic, but with much advocacy, the government has been able to release dataset on the education and health sector. So what have been the challenges of the NGOs in tracking or using this data, as they have been engaged in budget tracking for a while now?
Challenges of Budget Tracking Highlighted by participants

Challenges of Budget Tracking Highlighted by participants
“Well, it is important to note that getting the government to release the data took us some time and rigorous advocacy, added to the fact that we ourselves needed training on analysis, and telling stories out of the budget data” explained Joels Terks Abaver of the Christian Association of Non Indigenes. During one of the break out session, access to budget information and training on how to use this budget data became a prominent challenge in the resolution of the several groups.
The second day took participants through the data pipelines, while running an expedition on the available education and health sector budget data that was presented on the first day. Alas! We found out a big challenge on this budget data – it was not location specific! How does one track a budget data that does not answer the question of where? When involved in budget tracking, it is important to have a description data that states where exactly the funds will go. An example is Construction of Borehole water pump in Kaura Namoda LGA Primary School, or we include the budget of Kaura Namoda LGA Primary School as a subtitle in the budget document.
Taking participants through the data pipelines and how it relates to the Monitoring and Evaluation System

Taking participants through the data pipelines and how it relates to the Monitoring and Evaluation System
In communities like this, it is important to note that soft skills are needed to be taught – , like having 80% of the participants not knowing why excel spreadsheets are been used for budget data; like 70% of participants not knowing there is a Google spreadsheet that works like Microsoft Excel; like all participants not even knowing where to get the Nigeria Budget data and not knowing what Open Data means. Well moving through the school of data through the Open Data Party in this part of the world, as changed that notion.”It was an interesting and educative 2-day event taking us through the budget cycle and how budget data relates to tracking” Babangida Ummar, the Chairman of the Budget Working Group said.
Going forward, this group of NGO and journalist has decided to join trusted sources that will be monitoring service delivery of four education institutions in the state, using the Education Budget Tracker. It was an exciting 2-day as we now hope to have a monthly engagement with this working group, as a renewed effort in ensuring service delivery in the education sector. Wondering where the next data party will happen? We are going to the South – South of Nigeria in the month of October – Calabar to be precise, and on the last day of the month, we will be rocking Abuja!

– See more at: http://schoolofdata.org/2014/10/01/breaking-the-knowledge-barrier-the-opendata-party-in-northern-nigeria/#sthash.sbEvoBaa.dpuf


It was another weekend of hacking for good all around the world, and Abuja, Nigeria was not left out of the weekend of good, as 30 participants gathered at the Indigo Trust funded space of Connected Development [CODE] on 12 – 14 September, scraping datasets, brainstorming creating technology for good, and not leaving one thing out – talking soccer (because it was a weekend, and Nigeria “techies” love soccer especially the English premiership).
Participants at the Hack4Good 2014 in Nigeria

Participants at the Hack4Good 2014 in Nigeria
Leading the team, was Dimgba Kalu (Software Architect with Integrated Business Network and founder TechNigeria), who kick started the 3 day event that was built around 12 coders with other 18 participants that worked on the Climate Change adaptation stream of this year #Hack4Good. So what data did we explore and what was hacked over the weekend in Nigeria? Three streams were worked :
  1. Creating a satellite imagery tagging/tasking system that can help the National Space Research Development Agency deploy micromappers to tag satellite imageries from the NigeriaSat1 and NigeriaSat2
  2. Creating an i-reporting system that allows citizen reporting during disasters to Nigeria Emergency Management Agency
  3. Creating an application that allows citizens know the next water point and its quality within their community and using the newly released dataset from the Nigeria Millennium Development Goal Information System on water points in the country.
Looking at the three systems that was proposed to be developed by the 12 coders, one thing stands out, that in Nigeria application developers still find it difficult to produce apps that can engage citizens – a particular reason being that Nigerians communicate easily through the radio, followed by SMS as it was confirmed while I did a survey during the data exploration session.
Coders Hackspace

Coders Hackspace
Going forward, all participants agreed that incorporating the above medium (Radio and SMS) and making games out of these application could arouse the interest of users in Nigeria.  “It doesn’t mean that Nigerian users are not interested in mobile apps, what we as developers need is to make our apps more interesting” confirmed Jeremiah Ageni, a participant.
The three days event started with the cleaning of the water points data, while going through the data pipelines, allowing the participants to understand how these pipelines relates to mapping and hacking. While the 12 hackers were drawn into groups, the second day saw thorough hacking – into datasets and maps! Some hours into the second day, it became clear that the first task wouldn’t be achievable; so much energy should be channelled towards the second and third task.
SchoolofData Fellow - Oludotun Babayemi taking on the Data Exploration session

SchoolofData Fellow – Oludotun Babayemi taking on the Data Exploration session
Hacking could be fun at times, when some other side attractions and talks come up – Manchester United winning big (there was a coder, that was checking every minutes and announcing scores)  , old laptops breaking (seems coders in Abuja have old  ones), coffee and tea running out (seems we ran out of coffee, like it was a sprint), failing operating systems (interestingly, no coders in the house had a Mac operating system), fear of power outage (all thanks to the power authority – we had 70 hours of uninterrupted power supply) , and no encouragement from the opposite sex (there was only two ladies that strolled into the hack space).
Bring on the energy to the hackspace

Bring on the energy to the hackspace
As the weekend drew to a close, coders were finalizing and preparing to show their great works.  A demo and prototype of streams 2 and 3 were produced. The first team (working on stream 2), that won the hackathon developed EMERGY, an application that allows citizens to send geo-referenced reports disasters such as floods, oil spills, deforestation to the National Emergency Management Agency of Nigeria, and also create a situation awareness on disaster tagged/prone communities, while the second team, working on stream 3, developed KNOW YOUR WATER POINT an application that gives a geo-referenced position of water points in the country. It allows communities; emergency managers and international aid organizations know the next community where there is a water source, the type, and the condition of the water source.
(The winning team of the Hack4Good Nigeria) From Left -Ben; Manga; SchoolofData Fellow -Oludotun Babayemi; Habib; Chief Executive, CODE - Hamzat

(The winning team of the Hack4Good Nigeria) From Left -Ben; Manga; SchoolofData Fellow -Oludotun Babayemi; Habib; Chief Executive, CODE – Hamzat
Living with coders all through the weekend, was mind blowing, and these results and outputs would not be scaled without its challenges. “Bringing our EMERGY application live as an application that cuts across several platforms such as java that allows it to work on feature phones can be time consuming and needs financial and ideology support” said Manga, leader of the first team. Perhaps, if you want to code, do endeavour to code for good!

– See more at: http://schoolofdata.org/2014/09/16/a-weekend-of-data-hacks-and-maps-in-nigeria/#sthash.PaJxPeOU.dpuf


The entire world witnessed the Earth Hour phenomenon sweep across the planet in its eighth year, as WWF’s Earth Hour 2014 broke all records of mass participation mobilizing hundreds of millions of people to become everyday Super Heroes for the planet.

Earth Hour proved the movement is now stronger than ever, with the event observed in over 162 countries including Nigeria and territories and over 7000 cities and towns, creating magical lights off moments in every continent of the world. The symbolic hour has grown into the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment, with beyond the hour activities and initiatives happening throughout the year.

In Nigeria, Earth Hour organised by Connected Development [CODE] was observed in 5 cities – Abuja at the Transcorp Hilton; Lagos at the “Earth Hour Garden” opposite the Lagos State House of Assembly; Taraba at the Kwararafa University in Wukari; Portharcourt at the LeMeridien Ogeyi Place and in Benin City at the Youth House.

“It’s always extraordinary to see cities and landmarks involved in the ‘lights off’ event, but the most exciting thing about Earth Hour this year is seeing the amount of projects and campaigns that are taking action beyond the hour. From crowdfunding to campaigns that are creating environmental awareness across the West Africa region, Earth Hour is harnessing the power of the crowd far beyond the hour,” said Oludotun Babayemi, Country Director for Earth Hour in Nigeria.

Last year alone saw thousands of Nigerians petitioned the president to pass the climate change bill into law to create a climate change commission to superintend over climate change activities in Nigeria. In 2014, the bill has been reintroduced and passed to the Senate for harmonisation. Likewise, the Walk to Mali campaign has started inspiring different communities across the West Africa region with the Kwararafa University pledging a 20km reserved forest for the flora and fauna.
WWF-Uganda began the fight against the 6,000 hectares of deforestation that occurs in the country every month by creating the first “Earth Hour Forest.” In 2012, Russians also petitioned to get legislative change protecting the country’s seas from oil pollution and now are striving to protect an area of forest twice the size of France.

These Earth Hour success stories illustrate the movement has become a global collaboration to show what can be achieved for the planet.

 In Nigeria, the Earth Hour celebration 2014 began its journey in Wukari, Taraba where community events were held all over the community and at Kwararafa University. Moving across to Wukari town where hundreds of community members joined the team and held a community sensitisation and advocacy on environmental sustainability hosted by the Taraba state coordinator, Anthony Agbor. The event within the community was grazed by the Boys Brigade Base Band and the Skaters Club of Wukari

The hour of inspiration then went back to its humble beginnings, as Earth Hour once again hit Abuja bringing to light the plight of one of the memorable hotels in the country with an environmental friendly atmosphere – The Transcorp Hilton. The Light out event anchored by Big Mo of Wazobia FM in Abuja, kicked off with the greetings to Nigeria cities taking part in Earth Hour, delivered by the FCT coordinator for Earth Hour, Oladotun Fadeyiye, while TED style keynote speech was given by Baaki John of the Women Environmental Programme (WEP) on environmental sustainability and women.

To drive action and support, a new exhibition waiting to be premiered as a movie “Walk to Mali” was screened during the hour, and the campaign also engaged people around the world to use their power and add their voice to protect vulnerable communities. “To witness Earth Hour in Abuja for the third year in a row, the event makes a powerful impression on me,” said Hamzat Lawal, the Chief Executive of CODE. “To see people united in a single purpose of making our lifestyles less impactful on the planet inspires me immensely.”

Continuing to the second home of Earth Hour, Lagos celebrated the event by empowering young school children with the message that people are the true everyday Super Heroes for the planet. Using none other than Spider-Man to join the global flagship event, the young stars from the Vicsum Private School were educated on the value of efficient energy use. “How to Take Action” speeches were delivered by Olumide Idowu; Halima Baba –  Lagos State coordinator for Earth Hour and Babatunde Shodiyan from the department of Conservation and Ecology of the Lagos state ministry of Environment.

“We hope the power of Spider-Man joining in the largest movement for the planet – Earth Hour will inspire this future generation in becoming super heroes for their various communities on environmental sustainability” Halima Baba said.

Right now, Earth Hour is moving across the globe, following the setting sun, sending billions of people around the world a message that each of us has the power to make a difference. Each of us can be a Super Hero for the planet,” Reiterated Baba said.

In Portharcourt, the lights off event then went to the Le Meridien Ogeyi Place at GRA. Hosted by Gift Godden, the city coordinator for the event, Earth Hour drew attention to the “Black Gold,” and the need to reduce air pollution and Oil Spills. The participants were encouraged to collaborate on ideas in order to inspire change towards healthier air and communities.

“It is pertinent to include every stakeholder in the build up to this popular environmental movement, it will help us in achieving our advocacy campaigns towards an oil spill free environment” said Okoduwa Sylvester of the Ofure Center for Peace and Development.

The management of the Le Meridien Ogeyi place was quite excited to be part of this movement again, having won a sustainability award for taking part during Earth Hour in 2013. “This movement will forever live in our memory, as it inspires institutions like ours to join in and do more to save our planet earth. Next year again, we will be part of this movement” said Henry Orie, the Food and Beverage Manager at Le Meridien.

In tandem with the crowd’s enthusiasm at events across the world has been Earth Hour’s massive digital presence, including the recently launched Earth Hour Blue to drive digital engagement beyond the hour. The revolutionary platform for the planet allows anyone in any country to use their voice or their dollar to take action and support projects of their choice across the globe, and further encourages participants to use their favourite social platforms to engage in their favourite crowdfunding and crowdsourcing projects.

As a newcomer to the crowdfunding scene, Earth Hour Blue has launched with WWF projects from Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, China, Nepal, India, Russia, Uganda, South Africa, Madagascar, Canada and Columbia which are now all live on the crowdfunding platform powered by Crowdonomic.


 As building capacity of government officials, CSOs and journalist remains important in the data liberation evangelism, the Follow The Money team focused more on their data expedition class on Open Data Day held at CODE with 28 participants. They include government officials from Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative [NEITI], National Space Research and Development Agency [NASRDA], and the FCT Mass Education Board, participants from the private sector, the media and CSOs. With Oludotun Babayemi, a data enthusiast taking the participant through basics of data design, data cleaning and publishing data, participants were thrilled having insights on how to use data to tell stories “I have been bundle with so much information today, and I appreciate this session, I now know where to get data from and how to use spreadsheet for collaboration” explained an excited Chinyere Opia from HOT FM

Demonstrating the practical session at the Education Hackathon was quite strategic to use in complimenting the practical sessions that went into training participants on sorting, filtering and cleaning data. The Hackathon allowed participants to filter and sort Nigeria data on Education within datasets downloaded from the World Bank project sites, and also update mapping of funds from the budget office on capital expenditures meant for federal education institutions in Nigeria. [LOOK] how one of the participant described #ODDAbuja

In Nigeria, billions of Naira has been spent [through government spending and international aid] on infrastructures on education that, often wouldn’t reach the community [Please read achieving the MDG goals in Nigeria] that it was meant for. “Infact we have many challenges, One I will like to say is government providing books and infrastructures that will make the children to learn, and also levies on children which at times they might not be able to afford” says Blessing Hassana [Watch the video], Principal of a secondary school in Nasarawa state [that’s a state just 20km away from the capital city, Abuja], what will happen in other states? Perhaps, this says much about why there are still about 10 million out of school children in Nigeria.

With the Education Budget Tracker still being curated for government spending and international aid, the strategy is to focus on how many education projects are operational in these communities. This Education Budget Tracker which allows for education point mapping has huge potential as an effective monitoring and management tool for planning and decision making. It can really help government and funding agencies to know where to focus more on. Some places might need infrastructure, while some its maintenance and others might be training.

In this way, the Ministry of Education and other donor agencies will be able to monitor the impact of its large investments in the education sector. It will also allow transparent tariff settings that reward good performance and highlight inefficiencies. Moreover, it is interesting to know that this tool allows trusted local people to provide information about the education service delivery in their communities using their mobile phones. “Going forward for us, the Follow the Money team is seeking partnership with interested entities to pilot the usage of this tool in one of the states with poor education performance index in northern Nigeria” says Hamzat Lawal while demonstrating how we intend to use the tool to participants.

The Open Data Day evening session started with a brief introduction of the Digital Humanitarian Network and how its members have been using technologies before, during and after emergencies. How CODE intends to engage organizations and communities interested in emergency response across the West African region using technology was highlighted and some government participants were quite interested and keen in how CODE will integrate crisis mapping into their situation awareness room. “It is quite interesting to know that CODE is leading innovative ideas in the region to help in early warning and emergency response, it will be great to showcase this to the National Emergency Management Agency [NEMA]” advised Godstime James of the National Agency for Space Research and Development.