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4 Reasons to watch DataDelta in 2024

Sarah T. Lucas 9 February 2024

Sarah T. Lucas shares what’s ahead for our large-scale survey work: centering people in the data, nimble innovations, and global expansion.

An IDinsight enumerator with a survey respondent during data collection for a DataDelta project in Kilifi County, Kenya ©IDinsight

Dear colleagues, partners, and friends,

We have entered 2024 in a full-on sprint for our dynamic DataDelta team at IDinsight. It has me thinking about motivation and action. What are the things that get us going, put the wind in our sails, fuel us forward, and energize us to push through challenges? 

Here is a glimpse of what’s ahead for us in 2024, what’s inspiring action, motivating our team, energizing our activities, and sustaining our efforts.

IDinsight’s DataDelta initiative delivers large-scale, high-quality survey data and insights to government and social sector leaders when they need it – enabling more informed decisions to improve people’s lives.

What’s inspiring us: Putting people at the center of our data

Even with extraordinary innovation in data types and analytical methods over the last decade, it is still far too hard to get data directly from people to understand their needs and experiences. Indeed, much of data innovation, like using mobile phones, geospatial, or social media data or machine learning models, seeks to make inferences about human behavior rather than obtain information firsthand. Yet, there are many things we can understand only by hearing directly from people: intra-household dynamics; differential experiences across subgroups; or the experiences of vulnerable people that are often unseen in administrative data or data collected passively through cell phones or social media. 

We believe data is ultimately about voice, equity, and justice – revealing truths that are too often hidden. This is the specific information – collected from people themselves – that reveals inequities, enables the design and targeting of social programs, and can validate other sources, like remote sensing data and government administrative data. We focus on technical data quality and excellent field practices to protect the integrity and truth of what respondents tell us through DataDelta surveys. 

In 2023, DataDelta-led surveys enabled the representation of the voice, aspirations, and socio-economic conditions of almost 300 million people across Kenya, the Philippines, and India.

What’s energizing us: Innovations and adaptations responsive to government and nonprofit leaders

As we work with partners to put people at the center of data for decision-making, we are excited about the variety of needs that DataDelta can meet. 

For example, government and nonprofit leaders in Africa and Asia are using DataDelta surveys to more deeply understand the experiences of the people they aim to serve, making better decisions and improving the effectiveness of social programs. They are using DataDelta to strengthen institutions by upgrading their data systems, improving data quality, and bolstering their ability to use data to improve outcomes. Partners are using DataDelta to collect on-the-ground information to improve machine-learning models. DataDelta also has ambitious plans to fill gaps in socioeconomic data in India and support state officials to use this information to improve public services. Among these many applications of DataDelta, we are particularly excited about these areas of expansion in 2024: 

  • Humanizing AI: In 2024 Artificial Intelligence will move ever deeper into the social sector, with both promise and peril. It is ever more important to ensure that AI models that describe people’s experiences and predict human behavior, especially about the world’s most vulnerable humans, are truly representative of the people they aim to benefit. Building on DataDelta’s experience working with Radiant Earth to create high-quality ground-truthed baseline geospatial data for Machine Learning models in agriculture, and our IDinsight colleagues’ experience with Educate Girls to use AI to help target their programs, we are on a mission to help humanize AI models. With both DataDelta’s capacity for rapid, large-scale primary data collection, and IDinsight’s Data Science team, we are excited to help social sector partners validate and refine models to better target programs, allocate resources, and predict outcomes.  
  • Enhancing data quality, for you: DataDelta not only collects new data tailored to decision-making, we also help improve the quality of data that our partners – especially in government – already collect. In 2023 we worked with NITI Aayog in India’s Aspirational Districts Program to diagnose significant errors in administrative data from point of collection to reporting and use by public officials, meaning that, prior to this effort, critical program decisions were being made on faulty information. Building on this experience, DataDelta is refining how we use our surveys to diagnose and improve the quality of administrative data with government partners.       
  • Understanding climate and gender priorities across India: DataDelta’s India team has the ambitious goal of setting up a state-representative, multi-state panel that provides annual, actionable evidence to partners on crucial social sector issues, with special attention to vulnerable subgroups in India. We’ll kick off the panel in 2024 with a focus on climate and gender data – specifically on understanding energy consumption and climate vulnerability at the household level and the unpaid care work burden faced by women. The panel offers policymakers and social sector partners a convenient, reliable, and accessible platform to obtain customized data for their decision-making needs, allowing them to track changes over time and compare progress across states. 
  • Citizen Generated Data: Driven by the recognition that many vulnerable communities and conditions are left out of official statistics and other formal data sources, there is growing momentum around citizen-generated data (CGD). This includes a push for data produced by communities and citizens to be recognized as official statistics. Some countries, such as Kenya, have developed standards that such data must meet to be included in official statistics. Yet there are many more citizen-generated data sets of social importance than those that meet such quality standards. Given IDinsight’s experience partnering with nonprofit groups, our presence across multiple countries, and DataDelta’s data quality practices, we are well-positioned to partner with communities to collect data that reflect citizens’ priorities while also meeting official data quality standards. 

All these exciting initiatives are built on the same core DataDelta offering – high-quality, timely data about people – collected directly from people.

What’s motivating us: Expanding our impact 

We have seen an encouraging increase in demand for large-scale, quick-turnaround household surveys by large government institutions and NGOs. Government partners are increasingly seeing the value of investing in surveys that provide specific insights beyond census and administrative data, especially when developing or rolling out new policies.

  • In DataDelta’s most ambitious project to date, the team worked with state government officials in India to collect large-scale and representative data in the health, nutrition, and education sectors in 33 districts of the state, representing almost 40 million people. State officials are using survey results to understand the experiences of vulnerable groups like pregnant and lactating women, target resources & programs where they are needed most, improve social programs to increase participation, and better meet participants’ needs, and enable outcomes-based governance.
  • In the Philippines, DataDelta is partnering with the Department of Health (DOH) on a longitudinal nationwide survey to inform DOH’s Health Promotion Framework Strategy. Data collected is already informing policies based on Filipino’s health behaviors and health risks. DataDelta’s health literacy survey represents all Filipinos age 18 and above, including those living in remote, rural areas. In these places, health literacy is the lowest, and yet health promotion outreach is limited. The data and insights DataDelta brings to policymakers feature the voices of underserved people to ensure that their needs are considered in decision-making processes. These voices are already shaping new approaches to health promotion by DOH. 
  • Understanding people’s experiences with public services means also meeting them where they access these public services – in facilities. DataDelta is working with the Philippines DOH to design and conduct the first national Universal Healthcare (UHC) survey. The survey will collect data on healthcare access, affordability, and quality at the facility and household level. The results of this survey will offer insights into the status of healthcare for Filipinos and health facilities in the country. The findings will inform the rollout of the country’s first UHC policy. 
  • In Kenya, the DataDelta team partnered with Hellen Keller International (HKI) and Kilifi county officials to survey residents about the uptake of Vitamin A supplementation and deworming interventions. Both HKI and county officials will use the survey results to inform future Vitamin A campaigns to improve children’s nutritional status, health worker practices, and access to health services in the county. The impact goes beyond this one survey – our partners are using the results to strengthen their capacity to collect and use high-quality data to improve child nutrition programming now and in the future. 

Building on these successes, in 2024 DataDelta is deepening our engagement in India, Philippines, and Kenya and expanding to other African countries.

What is sustaining us: Our stellar global team

Our 2023 success and 2024 ambitions are powered by an incredible team. Take a look at the folks leading our DataDelta regional and innovations teams.

  • Diksha Radhakrishnan leads DataDelta in India. She brings expertise in public health, government partnerships, and behavioral insights as well as a passion for gender equity and great people management. 
  • Nyawira Gitahi leads DataDelta in Africa. She brings expertise in the health sector, multi-country research studies, and technical advisories for government partners, as well as her zeal for bringing DataDelta to countries across Africa. 
  • Mikka Hipol leads DataDelta in Southeast Asia (acting). Mikka brings expertise in public policy and local government, and has used her tenacity, creativity, and systems thinking to pioneer DataDelta in the Philippines. 
  • Krishanu Chakraborty leads DataDelta’s research and development team. He brings a decade of research experience to DataDelta’s methodological & analytical innovations, and data quality standards, as well as a passion for finding more ways to apply DataDelta to improve the social sector. 
  • Eric Dodge is DataDelta’s chief technology officer. He draws on a career in data engineering and analytics to spearhead the development of DataDelta’s custom-built survey management tool, SurveyStream, allowing us to deliver high-quality data fast.
  • Doug Johnson is our senior statistician and economist. Doug draws on a career in multilateral organizations and the private sector to help DataDelta stay on the cutting edge of survey practices.  

We are grateful to our supporters (special shout out to the team at Co-Impact!) and peers that have helped push our thinking, expand our capabilities, and now, in 2024 our global reach. Interested in collaborating or learning from our team? Please get in touch.

With enthusiasm for all that’s ahead,

Sarah and the DataDelta team