Data can help CSOs improve decision making and increase programme efficacy ©


July 2021

Data, in its many forms, can enable civil society organisations (CSOs) to use their resources more efficiently, provide insights to improve decision making, and increase programme efficacy. Despite these benefits, many CSOs do not understand and appreciate the value of data, have limited knowledge of how to work with it, and lack the enthusiasm to incorporate data into their work. Meanwhile, data has the potential to create and sustain positive change, including quantitative evaluations of donor-funded projects. This can only happen if CSOs have both the knowledge and the desire to engage with data.

In May 2021, the Agents for Citizen-driven Transformation (ACT) programme conducted a three-day training on social research and data analysis for seven CSO partners in Lagos state. The aim was to strengthen their capacity to collect data, organise information, and analyse data using facts and evidence generated from research to improve programme planning, implementation and communication.

Two representatives from each of the following organisations participated in the workshop: BudgIT Foundation, the Educational Co-operation Society, the Lagos State Civil Society Partnership, the Nigerian Network of NGOs, Women Arise, the Women’s Rights and Health Project, and the International Press Centre.

The sessions were both personal and interactive, ensuring that the participants were engaged throughout the process. Participants gained greater knowledge in areas of social research and data analysis including the principles of social surveys, data collection and analysis, field research methods, quantitative data analysis with a statistical package for social sciences, and qualitative interviewing methods. CSOs were divided into groups to brainstorm, share experiences, and exchange ideas on how to apply the new skills in practice. 

The training provided a holistic view of data collection processes to interested CSOs and helpd to build enthusiasm about data and its purpose. As next steps, some participants will conduct a step-down training for other staff in their organisations, while others plan to adapt key learnings to research interventions, and improve data collection and dissemination by collaborating with other CSOs. 

“I will put this knowledge to use on various data collection instruments, and provide a step-down training to members of my organisation so they can also benefit.” Margaret Chichi Nkire, Lagos Civil Society Participation for Development