Elgeyo Marakwet County is the first devolved unit in Kenya to establish a Data Desk, which is a government function that will collect, compile, analyze and disseminate the county’s data and in a bid to have devolved governments be more responsive to the needs of its citizens. 

H.E. Eng. Alex Tolgos, Governor of Elgeyo Marakwet, expressed his joy at the launch and reiterated his government’s commitment to Open Government principles. “In Elgeyo Marakwet, we govern together with our citizens and their participation is paramount to our success. That is why our Data Desk is designed to publish data freely on the website.”

The Data Desk framework has been developed by the Open Institute with support from the World Bank and will be managed by county staff, also known as Data Desk fellows. The Data Desk unit will be responsible for collecting reliable, comprehensive county socio-economic data, verifying and validating data with departments to ensure it is accurate then analysing the data by taking note of correlations, central tendencies. Finally, the Data Desk unit will publish the data on a public dashboard for citizens to engage with.

“Every County Government must plan, but planning alone is not enough if not backed up by accurate data. The Data Desk will allow counties to plan sustainably with data they have collected, hence they will be more targeted in the development they pursue.” said Al Kags, the Co-Founder and CEO of the Open Institute.

By having citizens interact with their county’s data, they are able to monitor activities such as budgeting, expenditure, development projects, tendering and contracting among others. Data Desk further fosters active dialogue between the county and its citizens as they are able to ask questions, seek clarity and raise concerns based on the data provided.

“A framework like Data Desk allows both the County and the Citizens to win. It promotes the County’s capacity to accurately plan and allocate resources. Citizens get the services that are most relevant to their needs because it is from them that the data was collected,” Mr. Kags added. 

Data Desk assists county governments to overcome the challenges they face in actualizing their ambitions for good governance, integrity, transparency and accountability. Counties like Baringo, Makueni, Kilifi and Taita Taveta have also expressed interest in the framework.

“We are happy to work with counties to strengthen their systems for transparency and accountability,” said Mr. Philip Jaspersen, a Senior Specialist at the World Bank, “Data is pivotal to service delivery at the sub-national level.” He added that Elgeyo Marakwet had gone through a robust process to establish the Data Desk sustainably.

The benefits of the Data Desk cannot be understated. Citizens of Elgeyo Marakwet will now be able to gain insights at a micro level within their county. They will be able to easily access data ranging from human population as well as metrics in areas such as agriculture which remains a key economic driver in the region. 

In simple terms, by understanding how many, for example, cows there are in the county, the responsive government will be better placed to distribute the required amount of animal feed reducing wastage and lowering the risk of malicious actors taking advantage of hard-working citizens. The Data Desk will also increase opportunities for direct communication from the government’s office to citizens dispensing critical and necessary information at any given time. 

The participating counties and their respective Data Desk teams will be supported by the Open Institute, who remain advisors to the project.