This post was written by David Duffeck, Senior Program Associate at InterAction. It is part of a blog series, where Initiative for Open Ag Funding partners share findings from their recent consultations with NGOs, donors, and foundations to understand the development community’s data needs and challenges in the agriculture and food security sector.
Join the conversation and learn more at: https://www.interaction.org/project/open-ag-funding/overview. The full reports from the consultations are available here.
For NGOs, good data can mean the difference between successful programmes and unsuccessful programmes – or significant and negligible results in the fight against hunger and poverty. However, NGOs can find themselves in the dark when deciding where and how to spend their resources, as the information they need to make smarter investments is often difficult, time consuming, and expensive to find. Below are a few of the things NGOs need to know in order to make the best possible investments to end hunger and reduce poverty.
What Others are Doing in the Agriculture and Food Security Sector
While this can seem simple, without knowing what others are doing, it is difficult for NGOs to determine how and where they can have greatest impact, and whether or not their programmes will complement existing efforts. One agriculture practitioner explained:
“Unless you sit down and talk with someone who knows that programme intimately… you’re really operating with a bit of a fuzzy picture…there is still always sort of like a bit of uncertainty, like ‘do I really understand this programme?… Can we really operate with them? Can we really leverage each other’s assistance?”
Without this information, it is also difficult to identify what gaps need to be filled to ensure that those in the most need receive the proper assistance.
Where Programmes are Being Implemented
Having detailed information on where programmes are being implemented helps NGOs ensure that they are not duplicating existing efforts or inadvertently undermining the work of others. One agriculture practitioner gave this example:
“If other donors are funding activities in … cocoa in country X, and they’re giving away free trees let’s say, and we’re building small-scale enterprises … that are tree nurseries… we need to have that information, and we need to know where they are giving away these trees, and obviously we would have to avoid those areas.”
NGOs need to know which organisations are involved in other projects, including funders, implementers, and local partners. This information is key to finding good partners and the best places to seek funding.
NGOs want to learn from the work of others. Without data on the results of other programmes, NGOs can struggle to replicate or build on what works and avoid approaches that have been less successful. Unfortunately, this type of information can be the most difficult to obtain.
If these data needs were met with accurate and timely investment data, NGOs could significantly increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their investments to reduce hunger and poverty. And while improving the quality and accessibility of this information is not easy, it is entirely achievable. Learn more about NGOs’ investment data needs in the full report.