Responsible data management in the humanitarian sector

In October 2021, CartONG engaged in its first ever partnership with the Crisis and Support Center (CDCS) of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE) regarding an initiative focused on the promotion of responsible data and data protection applied to humanitarian actors and settings over the November 2021 to October 2023 period.

This first dedicated project on responsible data for CartONG is part of a new innovation fund of the CDCS aiming at supporting structuring humanitarian initiatives. CartONG will also finance part of the activities itself.

Collaboration and a field focus

Through this project, CartONG hopes to directly support a dozen French humanitarian actors in applying and implementing responsible data practices in their program data management and, consequently, improve the quality of their programs.

More specifically, the provided support aims at encompassing the entire chain of the data life cycle from data collection to the sharing of data, through the processing stages, analysis and destruction of such data.

Through this, the project ultimately seeks to ensure that:

  1. The issues and impacts of responsible program data management will be better known and integrated into the strategic approaches of humanitarian actors.
  2. Field teams will be better prepared and equipped to implement program data management projects with appropriate methods and tools.
  3. Field teams will develop and improve their data literacy, reflexes and good practices in the area of responsible program data management.

In line with our values and the approach we take in many of our projects, this new initiative will be implemented in collaboration with other key actors of the sector.

A project in line with the activities undertaken by CartONG over the past few years

With this 2-year project, CartONG will be able to capitalize on the work conducted internally and in support of its existing partners since 2018 for the promotion and implementation of data responsibility, building on these first few years of acquired experience to advance responsible data practices within the aid sector as a whole.

Indeed, very early on, CartONG has had at heart to process data shared by its partners with care in a safe, responsible and ethical way. This has triggered many reflections and actions internally to comply with the EU GDPR while also developing best practices and helping our team switch to a new mindset. Thanks to the wide range of interactions we have with partners, in the last 4 years, we have acquired a keen and responsible practice of handling data at every stage of the project data cycle: from need assessment to data collection, from analysis to data visualization and from data storage to sharing, storing and archiving; through tools and methods set up and managed by our technical team. More recently, the promotion of responsible data within the aid sector was enshrined in our 2022-2024 Strategy as one of our priorities as a H2H Information Management actor.

We are very excited to be able to draw on these experiences and share our knowledge more widely, while continuing to build our expertise on this ever-evolving topic. This is even more the case, as there are still uncovered needs and an overall lack of expertise on the topic adapted to the aid sector. Too often, the responsible data is either tackled from a very legal perspective or a very technical one, while the topic is cross-cutting by nature and requires a holistic approach.

A quick panorama of the main activities

In practice, CartONG will be aiming at creating a community of practice for everyone in the humanitarian sector interested in the topic: a space for learning, sharing, discussing and building a momentum on the topic.

We will also curate and make relevant content available to aid organizations. In an overwhelming – mostly English-centered – literature sorting out what can be meaningful and useful for operational humanitarian actors can be rather challenging. CartONG will carry out such a technical and methodological watch, while also providing translation of key publications to ensure existing responsible data guidelines are accessible to a wider audience.

Finally, we will also support training efforts and develop materials to bring awareness and build capacity of HQ and field teams.

What’s coming up?

In these first months of implementation, our team is actively working on gathering and translating several existing resources into French. Check out the first few publications released on the IM Resource Portal:

More are to come in the second quarter of 2022!

We are also currently reflecting on the structure of the future dedicated responsible data toolbox that will be released onto the new Learning Corner on the IM Resource Portal, alongside our latest publications such as the Data Visualization and Data Analysis toolboxes.

With the participation of the Crisis and Support Center of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs.

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