Africa is ready to fight covid-19 with seven innovative data projects
Agence Française de Développement (AFD) "Shared Innovation” series highlights innovative programs created or developed in our partner countries to combat covid-19.
AFD, Expertise France and The GovLab have launched call for projects that will use data to combat Covid-19. The goal is to unlock the potential of under-exploited data, as part of the #Data4COVID19 challenge – with a focus on Africa. This call for innovative, data-based proposals aims to address the economic, social and health challenges caused by Covid-19 across the continent. Some 80 project proposals were submitted. Here are the seven winners.
An early warning system to identify disease outbreaks; an analysis of how the crisis has affected students; the identification of missed opportunities for testing vulnerable populations. What do they all have in common? Data.
Data is essential to better understand the different aspects of the crisis and the pandemic. Data can be used to implement policies designed to help communities across the African continent.
And yet, there is too much data that, despite being open and available, lies unused in digital archives. In order to exploit this data to benefit communities, AFD, Expertise France and The GovLab launched the #Data4COVID19 challenge, with a focus on Africa.
More than 80 project proposals were received and reviewed, with the help of a panel of independent data science experts. Project winners obtain funding (the total budget for the seven projects is €567,000), and will gain access to an online platform through which they can interact directly with data science experts to discuss their work, find solutions collectively to the challenges faced, and share results.
This platform will facilitate peer-to-peer learning and help increase the impact and widen the influence of each project. Here's a glimpse at the seven winning projects.
1. Improving Testing among vulnerable populations
Research Institute for Development
In Mali, Covid-19 testing among vulnerable populations is generally inadequate due to structural and socio-behavioral barriers. The purpose of this project is to quantify the missed opportunities for Covid-19 testing among vulnerable populations (particularly people living with HIV). The aim is to demonstrate that Covid-19 testing for these groups could be improved with appropriate use of the human and institutional resources available.
In short: a project to quantify missed opportunities for Covid-19 testing among vulnerable populations (particularly people living with HIV).
2. Assessing and minimizing the negative effects of the pandemic on students
Alioune Diop University of Bambey
To combat the pandemic, the Senegalese government imposed protective measures in the higher education sector that are likely to have a negative impact on the quality of education provided. To what extent have higher education students been affected by these measures? Could this have an effect on their academic and professional performance? Can a student’s environment have an impact on their results? This project aims to answer all these questions, with a view to finding appropriate solutions to limit the negative effects of health measures on students’ quality of education.
In short: a project to assess how higher education students have been impacted by the crisis and to develop appropriate solutions.
3. Understanding determinants of behavior towards health measures
Nigeria Center for Disease and Control
Nigeria was hit hard by a second wave of Covid-19, partly because people were less willing to adhere to government guidelines. In the first instance, the researchers aim to identify the social, economic and political factors that shape Nigerians’ individual perceptions and beliefs with regard to Covid-19. They will then examine how these perceptions and beliefs affect people’s behavior towards health measures.
In short: a project aiming to understand the political, economic and social factors that shape Nigerians’ individual perceptions and beliefs with regard to Covid-19, and how this affects their behavior.
4. Developing an African Covid-19 vulnerability index
Code for Africa
Nigeria and Senegal
The spread of Covid-19 and its new variants is worsening on the African continent due in part to the many health challenges that existed prior to the pandemic. This project aims to help policymakers to analyze the impact of these preexisting challenges more effectively, by providing them with up-to-date data and digital tools so that they can better plan their Covid-19 response. An African Covid-19 vulnerability index will be developed in coordination with Africa CDC.
In short: a project to develop an African Covid-19 Vulnerability Index, in coordination with Africa CDC, for use by policymakers to inform their decision-making processes with more accurate and up-to-date data.
5. Identifying the role of people’s perceptions in developing effective prevention programs
The Population Council
Why are Covid-19 infection rates increasing in Africa? And in Kenya specifically? Do people’s perceptions of their vulnerabilities play a role? How does this affect their compliance with preventive behaviors amid the threat of Covid-19? The researchers aim to develop a better understanding of the causes of the virus’s spread by studying the nature of these perceptions among the social groups identified. The information collected will be used to develop targeted prevention, communication and information programs in key countries to control not only the current pandemic, but also any future outbreaks.
In short: a project to assess how perceptions of vulnerability to Covid-19 affect compliance with preventive behaviors, among the population subgroups identified.
6. Developing an early warning system to identify disease outbreaks
National Institute of Public Hygiene
There are many people who, despite being infected with Covid-19, do not have recourse to health care services, making it difficult to detect many cases. This project aims to improve existing epidemic surveillance mechanisms, particularly among population groups with little or no access to health care services. The goal is to develop an early warning system to identify outbreaks and monitor the spread of diseases.
In short: a project to improve existing epidemic surveillance mechanisms through the development of an early warning system, with a particular focus on population groups with little or no access to health care services.
7. Using social networks to better understand citizens and promote compliance with prevention measures
Data Science Institute: Institut National Polytechnique Felix Houphouët-Boigny
There are many obstacles to implementing suitable health care measures in response to the pandemic, such as difficulties determining the right measures to adopt and assessing their impact, as well as the public’s mistrust in governments. By using anonymized data from social networks, this project intends to gain a better understanding of people’s expectations and concerns regarding health measures. This research aims to help the authorities regain public trust and implement a more effective policy response.
In short: a project to use anonymized data from social networks for a better understanding of people’s expectations and concerns regarding government measures in response to Covid-19 (curfews, lockdowns, etc.), in order to restore public trust in the authorities.