The original article was published on Nutrition RapidSMS blog on 20 February 2016. To read the original article click here

Open Data can be a national treasure – as demonstrated in the most recent elections in Burkina Faso and in their open data initiative.

For old school leaders like Tandja in Niger who was deposed after attempting to cover up a nutrition crisis and Al Bechir in Sudan who was indicted by the ICC while denying the nutrition crises in Darfur, Open Data can be a real political danger.

Since 2011, following the recommendations (commandments) of donors on Open Data, all nutrition survey reports and data were archived online. Colleagues from ECHO following the lead of aid transparency clearly defined the Open Data language required in their funding applications. The colleagues from OFDA did not insist on having the open data agreement in writing, but in 2014 the leadership in Washington DC launched the USAID open data policy. We explained to all government counterparts that without open access to survey data, we could not access donor funding. All government counterparts immediately gave oral consent as they realized the benefits of transparency.

We had repeated difficulties to figure out the best way to host the information on online. The available technical support was never adequate. Posting information online is something that many of us do everyday, but finding a practical method to put these data online was a nightmare. Then we were alerted that without written permission from individual countries we could not provide access to data and the Open Data initiative FAILED.

Pink Lady

In old English most all fruits were called apples (pineapples, custard apples, finger apples, yard apples, earth apples). For some, the most tasty is the fruit of the tree of knowledge. It is obvious that some information is still forbidden fruit. Wow, imagine a life without fruit.

Well now, you don’t have to. READ THIS!

It is a brilliant story of an academic who steals journal articles from the rich and gives free access to everyone.  We are not advocating for thievery, but we do appreciate more open access to scientific articles. We hope that she fairs better than Aaron Schwartz.

And clear efforts are underway to re-open access to nutrition data soon.

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