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Reciprocal exchanges and Insights on Data for Climate Resilience Peer-Learning Network program with Open Data Institute in collaboration with Microsoft.

Women Income Network’s participation in the data for climate resilience peer-learning network (PLN) program has been a transformative experience, providing us with invaluable insights, fostering collaboration, and empowering us to contribute meaningfully to climate resilience efforts. This write-up summarizes the key learnings from the structured sessions, the knowledge gained from fellow participants, and outlines the strategic next steps that we plan to undertake to drive positive change at Women Incomen Network organization, the served communities and beyond. We acknowledge the three representatives of Women Income Network on the PLN, Matini Janepher, Mugumya Johnbosco and Alicia Mbalire Namakula for their invaluable contribution during the Peer learning Network and in the development and feedback of their engagement, lessons, experiences and recommendations throughout the Peer Learning Network program.

Experiences, Lessons, and Insights from the Peer Learning Network:

Knowledge Sharing: The participation in the Peer Learning Network offered a platform to exchange experiences, knowledge, and best practices with other organizations focused on climate resilience and sustainability. Through engaging in discussions, e-workshops, and collaborative data model activities, Women Income Network participants gained invaluable insights into different approaches and solutions implemented by other peer organizations. This exposure to various strategies, technologies, and methodologies has enriched the understanding and empowerment to apply innovative methods and solutions in the Organisation’s initiatives and towards a sustainable data sharing approach.
Data Collaboration and Management: A key focus of this Peer Learning Network program was on promoting data sharing and collaboration. Women Income Network participants recognized the importance of effectively collecting and managing data to drive climate resilience efforts. As part of the participation, Women Income Network shared data collection and management systems, including the Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation (RM&E) system. Through interactions with other organizations, participants learned about cutting-edge approaches to data collection, analysis, and reporting. These learnings have significantly enhanced the ability to track project progress, measure impact, and make well-informed decisions based on reliable data. Additionally, steadily, Women Income Network is embracing collective action towards addressing climate challenges within the served communities. This is evident with the new collaboration forged with Busiika town council , to leverage on the power of data sharing to neutralize poor waste management approaches, increase awareness and adoption of the maggot farming technology as a tool for fostering a culture of environmental responsibility.
Addressing Waste Management Challenges: Our primary focus within the Peer Learning Network was to tackle the management of bio-waste disposal in Uganda. Through this network, pParticipants at Women Income Network developed data models that track the effectiveness of maggot farming technology in waste management strategies implemented. Women Income Network is now able to report reliable statistics that will guide environmentalists in vetting options. Women Income Network participants learned about diverse practices that enhance carbon neutralization initiatives. These newfound insights have allowed Women Income Network to refine its maggot farming initiative and explore innovative approaches to address waste management challenges in our community.
Partnerships and Collaboration: The Peer Learning Network offered participants a unique platform to forge partnerships and collaborate with like-minded organizations working on similar issues. It also offered the opportunity to connect with stakeholders such as Bugema University, Busiika Town Council and office of the Community Development Officer of Kalagala sub county, and local companies actively involved in waste management through the Data Orchard Maturity Model that offered participants to do self assessment and Identification of their capabilities and identification of their engagement potentials. By sharing data and insights, Women Income Network fostered collaborations that enabled collective action towards addressing waste management challenges on a larger scale. This collaborative approach has not only amplified the organisation’s impact but also facilitated the sharing of resources, expertise, and funding opportunities among our development partners.
Policy Influence: Practising data sharing and insights gained through the Peer Learning Network have had a significant impact on informing public policy on waste management. Participants utilised their newfound knowledge to advocate for innovative data-sharing models and evidence-based decision-making. Engaging policymakers and relevant stakeholders, emphasised the importance of sustainable waste management practices and the potential of maggot farming. By showcasing the success of our initiatives and presenting data on reduced waste disposal in landfills, we successfully influenced policymakers to consider replicating the organisation’s model in other regions. This replication will have the potential to curb waste disposal while addressing economic disparities.
Data Standardization: During the organised sessions, RICS, one of the collaborators of the Built Environment ‘whole life carbon reduction’ framework in the UK emphasised the importance of standardising data and its role in driving efficiency and projects’ cost effectiveness. Women Income Network has also identified the need to initiate dialogues that will lead to the development of Uganda’s and Africa’s data reporting standards to foster accuracy and easy interpretation of the data shared across interrelated sectors.
Capacity Building: The participation in the Peer Learning Network served as a catalyst for enhancing the organisational capacity in various aspects of climate resilience and sustainability. Participants acquired valuable knowledge and skills in data management, impact assessment, partnership development, and policy advocacy. These newfound capabilities have significantly strengthened the ability to drive positive change and expanded organisational expertise in addressing waste management challenges effectively. Thus, structured sessions provided a participatory platform for peer organisations to build capacity, offering exposure to cutting-edge tools, techniques, and methodologies for data collection, analysis, and interpretation. For example, tracking organisations’ Data maturity using the Data Orchard framework enabled Women Income Network’s participants to track improvement in using data to visualise desired change. This tool has enabled us to understand our growth in the data stewardship space, identified the gaps so that they are utilised to develop solutions/approaches that will enhance the organisation’s proficiency in data management and analysis, empowering us to create valuable data repositories that will be shared with the entire public.

Overall, Women Income Network’s involvement in the Peer Learning Network provided participants with a dynamic platform to learn from peers, share their experiences, and collaborate towards effective solutions. This experience has enabled participants to refine their initiatives, strengthen partnerships, and broaden organisational impact in addressing bio-waste disposal management in Uganda. Participants are confident that they will continue to contribute to climate resilience efforts and align with the goals of sustainable development. As the funding timeline with Microsoft concludes, Women Income Network participants are grateful for the support that has enabled their participation in this transformative program and empowered them to make and stir a significant difference in their community and partners at large.

Future Plans with the Acquired Knowledge:

Applying Data-Driven Approaches: Building on the knowledge acquired from the structured sessions and interactions with fellow participants, Women Income Network is committed to prioritising data-driven approaches. Women Income Network will continue to enhance our data collection, analysis, and interpretation capabilities, enabling evidence-based decision-making in all initiatives. Women Income Network has now employed the QR Code systems to track operations data and financial tracking platforms such as QuickBooks. The aim now is to build on this experience to establish a robust data management system that is more reliable to support informed strategic planning and evaluation.

Strengthening Stakeholder Engagement: Women Income Network acknowledges the significance of stakeholder engagement in strengthening a data ecosystem. This has been evidenced by the responsiveness of the Department of Agricultural Sciences at Bugema University, Community Development Officers at Busiika Town Council and Kalagala sub county after we had published a Data Ecosystem Map that articulated the alignment of our vision with that of different stakeholders. We are to continuously apply this tool to actively involve local communities, policymakers, scientists, and other relevant stakeholders in our mission; to drive financial independence, provide sustainable protein-rich animal feeds and consequently build climate resilience. Women Income Network participants will leverage effective communication and collaboration strategies so as to create a sense of shared responsibility and build resilient communities.

Scaling Successful Practices: Drawing from the lessons learned from peer organizations, Women Income Network aspires to scale and replicate successful climate resilience practices. Majaha, one of the PLN program participants once stated; “we advocate for data sharing as a means of alleviating organization’s operation costs and address challenges across interrelated sectors” by adapting and implementing such proven narratives/approaches in diverse regions and contexts in Uganda, Women Income Network is more likely to drive major development changes and more cohesion in driving climate resilience.

Cultivating a Learning Culture: Building upon the culture of continuous learning and improvement fostered by the peer-learning network, Women Income Network is committed to sharing experiences, challenges, and lessons learned internally and externally and will continuously refine Her approaches and strategies, adapting to changing circumstances and optimizingeffectiveness in addressing climate resilience and economic injustices in communities.

Recommendations to Open Data Institute and Microsoft

Support Continued Knowledge Sharing and Collaboration: Encourage and support the continuation of knowledge sharing and collaboration among organisations focused on climate resilience and sustainability. The Peer Learning Network has proven to be a valuable platform for exchanging experiences, best practices, and innovative approaches. Microsoft may be able  to foster this collaborative environment by providing resources for virtual workshops, enrolling PLNs’ participants in initiatives such as Microsoft Power up program training for low or no code initiatives to enable automation and visualisations of shared data, webinars, and forums where organisations can share, build, automate and visualise  their data insights, challenges, and successes. This will ensure that the network’s impact extends, promoting ongoing learning and collective action.

Invest in Data Collaboration and Management Solutions: Recognizing the importance of data in driving climate resilience efforts, Microsoft and Open Data Institute can invest in data collaboration and management solutions. This support can enable organisations like Women Income Network to improve their data collection, analysis, and reporting capabilities. Microsoft’s expertise in technology and data management can contribute to the development of robust systems that facilitate the effective sharing and utilisation of data. By investing in these solutions, Microsoft can empower organisations to track project progress, measure impact, and make data-driven decisions, ultimately enhancing the effectiveness of their climate resilience initiatives.

Foster Partnerships for Scaling and Replication: Microsoft and Open Data Institute can play a crucial role in fostering partnerships among organisations working on climate resilience and sustainability. By leveraging its network and resources, Microsoft can connect organisations like Women Income Network and other Peer Learning Network participants, but also empower them to mentor other Organisations across Africa, while transferring knowledge, experiences and tools deliverable in an Africentric, culturally sensitive and critical of challenges like limited resources, internet and technology disparities there by scaling the potential of Peer Learning Network program to engage with other potential stakeholders, policymakers, and funding opportunities. These partnerships can facilitate the scaling and replication of successful initiatives, such as WIN’s maggot farming model, to other regions and communities facing similar waste management challenges. Microsoft’s support in forging strategic partnerships can amplify the impact of these initiatives and accelerate progress towards achieving climate resilience goals.

Challenges to Address:

Limited Access to Technologies and Data Collection Resources: One of the key challenges faced by organizations operating in rural areas, like Women Income Network in the Luwero district, is the limited access to technologies and data collection resources. Microsoft and Open Data Institute can help address this challenge by providing technical assistance, training, and resources to improve data collection infrastructure and access to technology. By bridging this gap, Microsoft and Open Data Institute can empower organizations to collect, manage, and share data effectively, enabling evidence-based decision-making and policy advocacy.

Internet Connectivity and Digital Divide: The digital divide, particularly in remote areas, poses a significant challenge for organisations relying on technology and online platforms for collaboration and data sharing. Women Income network will continue learning, engaging and collaborating with local partners and stakeholders to explore innovative solutions for improving internet connectivity in these areas; however, in case Microsoft and ODI are willing to engage with local communities, Women Income Network is advocating and can engage in this partnership to improve access to internet connectivity and reduce the digital divide through this collaboration or any future engagements. This can involve initiatives such as providing internet access in community centres, supporting the development of localised digital infrastructure, and facilitating access to affordable and reliable internet services. By addressing the digital divide, Women Income Network,  Microsoft and Open Data Institute will have ensured that organisations in underserved areas are fully participating in data and knowledge sharing and are utilising digital tools for climate resilience efforts in particular with minority, and marginalised groups of women and children in our communities; thus putting people first and leaving no one behind.

Sustainability and Long-Term Funding: Sustainability in climate resilience initiatives is a persistent challenge, often exacerbated by the availability of long-term funding. Microsoft could help support organisations like Women Income Network by exploring funding models beyond the initial funding period. This can include The current approach Women Income Network is developing to deliver an Africentric, culturally sensitive and limited resources setting open data sharing model for Peer Learning network organisations towards climate resilience and Agricultural Innovation for Farmers across Africa; following attendance the PLN organised by ODI and Microsoft; furthermore, partnering with philanthropic organisations, facilitating access to impact investment opportunities, or supporting organisations in developing sustainable Data models. By modifying the PLN data sharing model, Women Income Network will ensure the continuity and long-term impact of climate resilience initiatives, allowing organisations to implement and scale their solutions effectively as they share data and advocate for policy changes on Open Data sharing in Climate and Agricultural resilience.

In Conclusion:

Participation in the climate resilience peer-learning network has provided Women Income Network with invaluable insights and learnings. From the structured sessions, we have embraced the importance of collaboration, data-driven decision making, capacity building, and standardising data practices. The interactions with fellow participants have broadened our understanding and inspired us to apply the acquired knowledge in our organisation’s future plans, focusing on data-driven approaches, stakeholder engagement, scaling successful practices, and fostering a culture of continuous learning. Through these endeavours, Women Income Network aims to contribute significantly to climate resilience and make a positive impact in different communities of rural Uganda and Africa wide. The participants  are also confident that by addressing the recommendations and challenges, Women Income Network will continue to drive positive change and make a lasting impact in addressing climate resilience and sustainability, both through its direct support to organisations and engaging in the broader initiatives and collaborations of Microsoft and Open Data Institute’s missions and objectives. We welcome interested global partners to join our initiatives of strategically using data to build climate resilience.