A Theory of Change

When GODAN was first established in 2014, a theory of change was created to understand what the Secretariat was going to achieve and how it would accomplish this. It was decided that in order for the Secretariat to be as effective as possible, it needed to advocate for a common vision that a partner network could believe in. The Secretariat needed to facilitate strong network effects to build relationships and trust across the globe and across sectors, and encourage all sectors to develop policies to enable open data. Finally, the Secretariat was tasked to develop and disseminate shared tools for opening and sharing data, and an evidence base to demonstrate that open data for agriculture and nutrition was the best way forward to achieve global food security.

A Common Vision

In order for partners to join GODAN, they must agree with GODAN’s Statement of Purpose which is “to support global efforts to make agricultural and nutritionally relevant data available, accessible, and usable for unrestricted use worldwide.” GODAN now has close to 800 partners from across the world who all support this common vision.
GODAN partners often say how happy they are to discuss open data with like-minded people and credit the GODAN Network for finding individuals and organizations who can help them push efforts forward. Some say that GODAN provides strong guiding principles for achieving the SDGs, and that the unified approach has been central to articulating the need for opening research data for better decision-making.

Network Effects

With 770 partners in 104 countries  working on 401 open data activities, the GODAN partner network is one of the strongest elements of GODAN. From a partner survey that we send out to partners when they join, over half specifically join GODAN to gain networking and new partnerships, which shows how GODAN has a strong reputation for network effects.
Our partners consistently tell us how beneficial they have found the partner network. Contacts made through events, online networking, or introductions via the Secretariat have improved profiles, connected organizations, and helped organizations achieve their goals. 

One of the best examples of GODAN’s networking effects is exemplified through the GODAN Summit, held in 2016. GODAN Summit was the first global conference that advanced the role of open data for agriculture and nutrition. The Summit was a commitment made by five visionary GODAN partners that planned and organized the event with the Secretariat: the Governments of the United States, United Kingdom and Kenya, and the ONE Campaign and Presidents United to Solve Hunger (PUSH). Almost 800 people attended the two day conference and ECOSOC at the UN representing 46 countries. The event was well covered by the media with over 5000+ tweets using the event hashtag over the two days. Four new working groups were created. At the event, three landmark publications were launched “A Global Data Ecosystem for Agriculture and Food”, “Responsible Data in Agriculture” and “Ownership of Open Data”, all of which were results from GODAN Working Groups. The GODAN Secretariat still hear stories from people who say the Summit was a turning point in their movement towards open data in agriculture and nutrition.

Tools and Evidence Base

The GODAN Secretariat was tasked with creating tools and an evidence base to assist the partner network with opening data specific to agriculture and nutrition. The tools and evidence can be divided into two categories: webinars, videos, and training and research based evidence and frameworks.
GODAN developed several videos including a five-episode documentary series published in 2016, focusing on the positive effects open data has on agriculture and nutrition. The videos have over 10,000 views. The GODAN Capacity Development Working Group conducts monthly webinars on everything from geospatial data to the importance of gender in open data. GODAN Action conducts e-Learning courses on open data management in agriculture and nutrition. GODAN and GODAN Action have conducted numerous research and framework reports. These reports include data standards, responsible data, a global data ecosystem, data impact measurements, and ownership of open data. All of these are published on GODAN’s F1000 platform which follows best practices in data publishing at this time.
GODAN is viewed as an important space for the best information on data management in agriculture and nutrition. Partners very much value our tools and evidence base, and have consistently said that our resources have benefited them by changing how they operate, especially from the GODAN Action e-Learning and the Capacity Development Working Group webinars.

Enabling Policies

The GODAN Secretariat and partner network have initiated big steps towards creating enabling policies towards open data in agriculture and nutrition in three sectors. For Donors, GODAN worked with the Open Data Institute to examine the open data or open access policies of five jointly funded agricultural programmes.  The donors were the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, and DFID. The results recommended that donors need to create better policies, preferably joint policies to help their grantees collect and manage data better, and to create incentives for good data practice both within the donor organization and with grantees. Off the back of this work, the Gates Foundation funded a consultation with GODAN, CABI, and the Open Data Institute to create data sharing and policy frameworks for soil and agronomy grants in India and Ethiopia.
With governments, GODAN has worked very closely with the Kenya Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries since 2015 on creating better open data policies for agriculture and nutrition. In July  2017, GODAN and the Government of Kenya held a Ministerial Conference on Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition which saw over 800 participants. The conference concluded with the signing of the Nairobi Declaration, a 16 article statement for comprehensive open data collaboration in the nutrition and agriculture sectors, by 15 African ministers.
CAFDO is the Conference for Open Data in Francophone Africa. GODAN has been working with them for the past year to help create open data policies.

GODAN has also created the Government Open Up Guide for Agriculture (previously known as the Ag Pack) in partnership with the Open Data Charter. The guide is for governments to identify and publish relevant data sets in agriculture and nutrition. The Beta version was published at the Open Government Partnership in Dec 2016 and since then has been presented at the International Open Data Conference in Accra, Creating Impact with Open Data Workshop in the Netherlands and at the GODAN Ministerial Conference in Nairobi. The next version of the Open Up Guide will be published this year and will be a useful tool for high-level decision makers, policymakers, and NGOs who seek to build capacity.
In research and academia, GODAN has worked closely with PUSH, the Presidents United to Solve Hunger initiative on a report on open data and open access at universities. The report provides recommendations on how open data can be better implemented at universities so it can be published and reused.

How can we leverage GODAN’s success?

The GODAN Secretariat is continuously and successfully achieving the goals we were created for and what we set out to achieve. Because the GODAN Secretariat has been so effective, we now have an existing partner network that works together, values evidence-based research, and is eager to move forward using open data to achieve global food security. 

The GODAN partner network uses open data for several agendas, and the top focus areas are sustainable production and food security, closely followed by value chain improvement and business creation. We have an opportunity to work with more partners to increase the number who work on gender balance and nutrition improvement. You can find more statistics and information about the partner base in the GODAN's Impact 2014 to 2018 - Improving Agriculture, Food and Nutrition with Open Data Publication.

It’s not only leveraging the partner network because GODAN’s reach extends far beyond the 770 partners we have in the partner base. Based on some analytics, GODAN has a reach of almost 25 million through its website, print and social media. GODAN has around 14,000 followers on all social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, reaching 16 million people. From 2017 to now, GODAN resources have been downloaded over 10,000 times, both on F1000 and the GODAN website.

Overcoming Challenges

A common open data challenge is political buy in, that is, convincing governments to commit to open data. As previously presented, we are working with governments to create enabling policies and successfully implement them.  Partners want to make sure that open data benefits farmers and GODAN is building many partnerships with farmer organizations though research and advocacy. And finally, GODAN Partners want to better manage their data through best practices and data standards. Currently, several GODAN working groups have released reports and recommendations on data standards and best practices. These initiatives need to continue through the Secretariat in order to help the partner network along with GODAN’s wider reach to publish data openly and re-use it for better decision making in agriculture and nutrition.