How NGOs can use data science to solve world problems more effectively

A total of 43 people from around the world, representing NGOs that include the Red Cross, World Food Programme, United Nations Environment Programme and USAID, have been selected to receive free training in data analytics, reports Tim Banerjee Dhoul

Those selected are members of the inaugural cohort of a new fellowship programme offered by the Analytics for a Better World (ABW) Academy as part of an initiative aimed at helping NGOs use data science to contribute to solving a range of development problems, from disaster response to fighting child malnutrition.

Developed by Amsterdam School of Business, the ABW Academy draws on expertise from across the University of Amsterdam as well as other ABW members, including MIT Sloan School of Management and the Digital Impact Alliance (independent but housed at the United Nations Foundation).

This targeted initiative comes in responses to an estimate from the think tank that the world will need 3.5 million data experts over the next decade to tackle social issues in low- and middle-income countries.

“We want to help make an impact on the ground. We want to collaborate with motivated individuals that are familiar with the situation around the world and know the local context of problems we address. If we develop tech solutions based on blockchain for a region but there is hardly any internet in that region, for example, the technology will be useless,” says Parvathy Krishnan, chief technology officer at ABW.

The eight-week fellowship programme, meanwhile, uses an initial “low-threshold starter package” to bring participants to an equal level before offering specialisations in the form of advanced courses and hands-on sessions. Participants will also bring their own case studies to the programme, from which it is hoped they will leave with the tools required to pursue new projects that benefit their non-profits’ work in practice. “We match everyone with an experienced mentor from the field to make sure that the case study doesn’t grind to a halt when the programme is over,” Krishnan adds.

“Data analytics has increased the output of companies. We want to achieve the same with NGOs. If we succeed, we will definitely be making a difference in the world,” says Claudia Orellana Rodriguez, a data scientist at the University of Amsterdam and co-developer of the fellowship programme’s curriculum alongside Krishnan.

You may also like...

Ambition: How to lead with authenticity

How to lead with authenticity

Experienced executive Jim Fielding explains why his leadership philosophy revolves around authenticity and outlines how today’s challenges can be met by creating respectful and empowering work environments

Read More »
Management techniques

Don’t worry, learn how to make your workforce happy

Since the pandemic, organisations everywhere have had to reckon with a newly emboldened workforce, whose values have changed and who can easily vote with their feet if those values aren’t met. To celebrate Happiness at Work Week, which runs from 25-29 September, Dominic Ashley-Timms offers his take on all the things they never taught you at business school

Read More »