Capacity Strengthening African Academic Institutions with Data Systems: Institut Supérieur des Sciences de la Population, Burkina Faso Posted on 12/10/2023 (17/10/2023) by David Waiganjo Capacity Strengthening African Academic Institutions with Data Systems: Institut Supérieur des Sciences de la Population, Burkina Faso October 12, 2023 The Gates Data System project implemented by APHRC since 2020 is intended to strengthen national and sub-national data systems to address the data demand and supply needs in select subnational units in Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal, and Uganda. This is to aid, among others, the monitoring of progress towards achieving SDG Goal 8, which promotes sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all, and Goal 10, which promotes reduced inequality within and among countries. Sub-national levels of governance are important layers to consider in the achievement of national-level development targets, particularly in Africa. In most countries, the service delivery of critical social sectors is devolved to sub-national administrative units, where budget and program implementation decisions are made. Additionally, the units deal with recruitment of personnel, purchase of goods and services, and actual service delivery with the national level providing policy direction and financial resources. Therefore, monitoring progress and tracking performance for evidence-based decision-making, particularly at sub-national levels, which automatically has similar effects at national levels is important. Consequently, the Gates Data System project in December 2022 launched an integrated IT platform at Institut Supérieur des Sciences de la Population in Burkina Faso. The platform has been a pivotal tool in three municipalities; Bobo-Dioulasso, Korsimoro, and POA, fostering monthly data analysis meetings among municipal units. These meetings, attended by key municipal actors including the respective presidents, aimed at leveraging data for informed decision-making. Below are the some of the achievements per municipality: Municipality of Bobo-Dioulasso: Leveraging data for guiding youth toward agro-silvo-pastoral activities. Empowering youth through Leadership and Entrepreneurship training held on June 26, 2023. Operationalizing the Directorate for the Promotion of Employment, Sport, and Associative Life. Integrating platform data in a workshop focused on the livestock and pastoralism subsector crisis (May 13, 2023). Collaborative workshop by the Framework of Young Actors for Development (COJAD) and Mouvement Citoyen Afrique Libre. Municipality of Korsimoro: Data-driven insights aiding education, water, and sanitation defense preparation. Addressing concerns related to population displacements’ impact on education. Exploring the effects of artisanal mining on local education. Evaluating the usefulness of water points in the municipality. Platform utilization during sectoral health consultations. Expertise France’s engagement for health project insights. Platform aiding global vision for education, health, and agriculture, as noted by the President of the special delegation. Enabling youth strategy formulation through ASJDK (Association of Young People for the Development of Korsimoro). Engaging with partners like OXFAM for strategic interventions. Serving students at the Basic Education Directorate (CEB) and Korsimoro health center for data access. Municipality of POA: Supporting student inspectors’ research on teacher motivation’s effect on teaching quality. Facilitating agriculture-related information sharing at the regional directorate of agriculture. Beneficial platform usage by agriculture professional certificate trainees for internship reports. Other Notable Successes: Two students defending statistics degrees at the Polytechnic University Center of Kaya (CUPK). Youth Employment and Mentorship From the project’s design, initiatives were taken to specifically target and support youth employment and productivity at the communal level. The first was hiring three young statistics assistants who had just graduated from schools in the project. The idea was to provide them with experiences needed to get a full-time job, strengthen their skills while working under senior project team members, and, finally, because some of them would be placed in each commune of intervention, it could increase their chances of being hired by the commune. A junior computer statistician and a young monitoring and evaluation assistant were engaged. The strategy was to ensure mentorship, work experience, and temporary work for the youth with the hope to increase their full employability. Another essential aspect was the graduation of two students using the project data. The objectives were to prove that it is possible to use the data for thesis and publication writing, and create opportunities for them at the commune level to get employed. In each commune of intervention, the monthly meeting of the communal unit including a representative of the local youth organization resulted in increased employment opportunities and improved productivity among local youth. Indeed, several youths in the agricultural sector mentioned that they used the data to plan for the sale of their products. In general, the youth-led entrepreneurial ventures and skill-building programs have successfully enhanced economic prospects for young people at the sub-national level. There were challenges encountered in achieving these outcomes. Motivating the communal unit members was critical for them to pass on information in the local language to the young males and females on the e of platform usage. These strategies were employed to overcome the problem of lack of information in rural commune and Bobo Dioulasso’s communal radio covered all the activities in this urban municipality. Every month, communal unit meetings discuss the impact of the project. These are measures in place to continuously evaluate the impact of youth employment and productivity initiatives and adjust them accordingly. Conclusion The platform’s high utility is evident across multiple scenarios, contributing to strategic planning, meetings, workshops, and student data collection. Municipal workers and data requesters alike are finding immense relief through its systematic data availability. Furthermore, the platform’s tangible impact on student thesis defense showcases its feasibility and significance in driving local development. This success story embodies the strengthened sub-national data systems’ goal, fostering efficient value chains, youth engagement, and cross-country learning.