Who Is Working on What, and Where? Explore This Map of Livestock Projects
Livestock project funders and implementers have basic, but critical, questions before they can decide on new investments or activities. Who is already working in an area? And what kind of livestock challenges are they addressing? Without this knowledge, projects risk repeating themselves or competing. This can undermine efforts to improve food security and livelihoods in low- and middle-income countries. The Livestock Project Portal is a new tool that maps out the landscape of investments into livestock development, offering important evidence for organizations working in this space.
The Livestock Project Portal taps into over 30 years of open data from the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), to offer valuable, “real time” insights on the activity of organizations working on livestock development. Users can explore who is working on what, where and, in some cases, what data these projects are generating.
The portal is developed by the Centre for Supporting Evidence Based Interventions in Livestock (SEBI-Livestock) at the University of Edinburgh, in close collaboration with the Livestock Data for Decisions (LD4D) community.
Data-Led Insights for Better Decisions
Funders need a good understanding of the landscape of projects to ensure that investments improve upon existing activities and build on existing knowledge and community networks.
“The ability to map out ongoing or historic investments in a given geography or by species or subject matter hasn’t been possible, even within one funding organization” said Shannon Mesenhowski, program officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, speaking at the recent LD4D community meeting.
“At the moment, local organizations and local governments must try to reconcile the lack of coordination between funders rather than focusing on collective impacts,” she explained. “A tool like this creates an opportunity for funders to connect on activities that may have similar objectives or goals,” she said.
The dashboard has been designed with a range of users in mind, according to Louise Donnison, senior data scientist at SEBI-Livestock. Donnison and her team have been engaging with LD4D community members to understand the needs of different user groups.
These groups include:
- Funders, who wish to explore who is funding livestock projects at a global level, with the aim of identifying funding gaps to allocate resources effectively.
- Governments, who wish to explore what investments are being implemented in their countries so that they can coordinate activities and resources.
- Grantees in the start-up phase of their investment can find out who else is working on livestock projects in their target countries for advice on local contexts, or to find previous investments that may provide learnings before they start their new project.
A Pipeline Built on Open Data
The data for the tool is ingested from IATI, which aims to improve the transparency of development and humanitarian resources and their results for addressing poverty and crises. Since 2008, over 1,500 funding organizations have published current and historical data on resources flowing into developing countries, including financial information, location, sectors or policy areas, and results. IATI data allows anyone to track the flow of aid, humanitarian and development resources. The dashboard is built on IATI’s powerful Datastore application programming interface (API), which provides access to data published according to the IATI standard.
“We were able to write a python script that extracts livestock sector activities from the API, and creates clean data tables,” explains Alap Mehta, a data scientist at SEBI-Livestock who designed the data pipeline. These data tables are stored in a staging database, ready to be plugged into the dashboard interface. “This data pipeline has been designed to be portable to other IATI domains, such as fisheries,” says Mehta. In fact, a prototype fisheries portal is now live and ready for community feedback.
We are still early in the journey. With the Livestock Project Portal in prototype mode, the SEBI-Livestock team will continue to engage with the donor community and other potential users to refine and improve the tool so it can be used to guide decisions. We will also continue discussions with the IATI team to learn about new ways to extract insights from existing data. Together, we look forward to advancing data-driven solutions that can shape investments and generate positive impacts for food security and livelihoods. If you have feedback, please get in touch!