Citizen involvement in data collection

Policy Brief #3: Filling the data gap: a common approach for data collection and use in Africa

  • Policy Brief
  • Data Collection


Information is needed to support decisions for daily water management operations and long-term adaptation to Climate Change. To generate this information, stakeholders in the water sector in Africa can use the AfriAlliance triple sensor approach for combining data from remote sensors, in-situ sensors (e.g. weather stations), and human sensors (e.g. citizen-sensed data). This approach helps fill data gaps and provides more information than just relying on one type of sensor. However, there is a need to use a common approach when planning data collection projects to generate relevant data. To this end, this policy brief presents a generally applicable process to design, collect and share data and information and ensure comparability across regions and users.

6 men looking at mobile phones

Mobile phones are increasingly used to support data gathering (Photo: Akvo).


Up-to-date information is needed to support decision-making to manage water resources and adapt to Climate Change. The low capacity of some African countries to generate and process this information delays the development of effective policy and actions. At the policy level, the lack of data also makes it difficult to track progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially in relation to water and climate action, and to increase transparency and accountability for development assistance. At the operational level, the lack of data reduces the ability of water managers and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to plan their operations and use resources efficiently and effectively (see Box 1 in the Policy Brief).

Information on the condition of local water resources and infrastructure enables water managers and stakeholders to design strategies for fast intervention. For example, during the drought in Ethiopia in 2016, water authorities did not have updated information on the condition of boreholes. Therefore, they could not direct financial and human resources to the locations where repairs were needed to ensure that people had access to drinking water (see Box 2 in the Policy Brief).

Front page of AfriAlliance Policy Brief #3

Front page of AfriAlliance Policy Brief #3. Click the link below to download it as a pdf.

Banner image: Citizen involvement in data collection (Photo: IHE Delft).