Interview with GODAN Champion Winnie Kamau #IWD2019

 

As part of our celebration of International Women's Day 2019, we would like to introduce Winnie Kamau, a freelance journalist in Open Data and Technology based in Nairobi, Kenya. Winnie is a passionate advocate for open data, and is driven to increase awareness about its benefits for agriculture. She will be hosting GODAN events throughout 2019, helping journalists and farmers find out more about the value of innovations in open data in the agriculture sector - creating the desire to expand the value of technology and data-driven knowledge. 

 

Winnie Kamau facilitating an Open Data training course

Photo: Winnie facilitating a training event on open data in agriculture

 

Winnie, why do you think open data for agriculture is so important for women smallholders in East Africa?
They say information is power and this power when it is in the hands of smallholder farmers it does make a big difference. When the data is open it helps farmers make the right decisions and also empower especially women who constitute the bulk of smallholder farmers.

Have you any experience of seeing the benefits of open data for women smallholders?
I would like to say, I have seen the benefits of Open data through the recent GODAN Partner meeting we held in Nairobi, a young nutritionist approached me asking if they can get access to data and use it to make an App. This shows the value and the demand for data and how it can be used innovatively.

You are a journalist in Kenya, so what got you so interested in open data?
I got interested in Data Journalism by coincidence you can say. I was a TV Court Reporter and Video Journalist working for one of the National TV stations, and I guess the love of reading the many court files got me curious about how best to use data. As they say, the rest is history and here I am an evangelist of Open data not only for farmers but also pushing for the use of Data in Newsrooms.

In your experience what are the main hurdles to overcome when introducing open data based agricultural innovations in Kenya and East Africa?
The biggest hurdle is working in silos, If we can come together and support each other in accessing the data that is made available it would really help in boosting innovations. Kenya and East Africa and in Africa, in general, has no shortage of ideas actually if you want to see a revolution of ideas invest in the incredibly amazing ideas of the young men and women. 

Have you a vision for the future? How do you see open data helping the development of rural communities in Africa?
My vision is to solidify the network of GODAN Partners. I believe if we are able to support each other we will be amazed by the product you will get from the fusion of the incredibly great ideas and data. The results of the innovations will help boost smallholder farmers in Africa.