Report. Evaluation of the Open Data for Development program

Cover of the report for the Evaluation of the Open Data for Development program

From October 2016 to June 2017, Manuel Acevedo and I conducted the evaluation of the Open Data for Development program, a USD 15 million initiative (direct plus indirect funding) led by IDRC, the Government of Canada, The World Bank and DFID / UK Aid.

This has been a terrific experience on many levels. The most important one was acknowledging how advanced the field is and, even more important, how deep the sensation is that a point of no return has been crossed in terms of open data, open government, transparency, accountability, open development, etc. Some important outcomes will, of course, still take some time to take place, but the path is been paved and the trend is gaining momentum quickly, adding up critical mass at each stage.

The collaboration and excellent attitude of all the actors involved in the project (we interviewed 41 people and read more than 150 working documents and 128 bibliographic references) was another aspect of the work that is worth highlighting. Special gratitude goes to Fernando Perini, Erika Malich, Katie Clancy and Tricia Wind at IDRC. It is not every day that one finds people so willing to have their work thoroughly scrutinized, to explain things without making excuses, to expect the evaluation to be an opportunity to learn and to improve. Same goes for the team at the World Bank and the Government of Canada (especially Amparo Ballivian and Yohanna Loucheur, respectively).

This impression of people taking seriously their work, including third parties’ evaluation and insights is confirmed not only by the publication of the report with the evaluation of the Open Data for Development program, but also the publication of the response of the Management of the program to our evaluation, providing both context and commitment to the recommendations made by the evaluators.

Below can be downloaded the three documents generated by the evaluation: the full final report, the executive report and the management’s response.

If I am allowed to, I would like to state that both Manuel and I are quite proud of the recommendations we made at the final section of our evaluation. Of course, the recommendations come from the many and richest inputs that everyone we talked to or read about kindly gave us. These recommendations are as follows.

  • OD4D: greater emphasis on the right side of the OD4D equation (i.e. “for development”)
  • Reticulating OD4D: towards an expanded network vision for OD4D
  • Build capacity for gender-purposeful programming
  • Invest in strategic partnerships
  • Greater engagement with the D4D community
  • Support OD intermediaries
  • Place knowledge management at the core of OD4D implementation processes

We hope the evaluation and, especially, the recommendations are useful not only for the program but for the whole open data and open data for development community. We remain at the disposal of anyone in need of more information, doubts or suggestions.


The evaluation focuses on both accountability and learning. The primary intention of the evaluation is to provide accountability to the program’s management and organizational governance structures for program results. In addition, it reflects upon OD4D’s implementation in order to inform future programming on open data for development themes. The process was guided by five evaluative questions, on (1) Results, (2) Design, (3) Management, (4) Policy and (5) Gender. The evaluation report addresses these five topics, and also refers to some cross-cutting issues which were identified during the process. The analysis is completed with a final section with key recommendations for the upcoming new phase of the program.


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Full report:
Acevedo, M. & Peña-López, I. (2017). Evaluation of the Open Data for Development program. Final report. Ottawa: IDRC.
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Executive summary:
Acevedo, M. & Peña-López, I. (2017). Evaluation of the Open Data for Development program. Executive report. Ottawa: IDRC.
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Management’s response:
International Development Research Center (2017). Management’s response to the independent evaluation of the OD4D program. Ottawa: IDRC.

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2017) “Report. Evaluation of the Open Data for Development program” In ICTlogy, #167, August 2017. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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2 Comments to “Report. Evaluation of the Open Data for Development program” »

  1. Dear Ismael,
    This evaluation is beneficial for my work and was robust in most parts. I was, however, very uncomfortable with the whole gender analysis. I found it confusing for the following reasons:
    1. The evaluation didn’t define a baseline to gender work (how much gender aspect should be achieved in the program and why). I also missed something straightforward – what the OD4D see as gender? There are many definitions of gender, but this didn’t come up in this evaluation.
    2. You wrote the following statement: “In terms of female participation in the program, there was a noticeable presence
    of women among partners, grantees (e.g. in trainings) or as participants in the IODC conferences ” However, I could not find the numbers to back it up. In my opinion, gender equity is when there is 50%-50% representation. The official numbers of IODC 2016 are 38% women participation, on 4% rise from IODC 2015. Also, you interviewed 15 women out 50 people in total. These numbers are still far from 50%-50% representation. Did you collect the figures of women in training or grantees?
    If we want open data for gender equity, we need women at the table to work on this, and currently, women are still not at the table.
    3. One interesting model for gender diversity is the ICANN one, which we can learn from –
    4. Lastly, you mentioned partnerships like Data2X but forgot to mentions that one of the blockers to work on open data and gender is the lack of data or really poor data collection on gender. This, in my opinion, is like chicken and egg. You can’t have open data if the data is not there…

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

    • Dear Mor,

      As the OD4D team acknowledges in their response, the gender issue probably was the weakest one of the program. So, and answering to question #1, that is the problem, that there often was not a gender strategy and, thus, a clear definition of concepts and goals.

      On #2, note that “presence” means not “equity”. The numbers are in the documents that are listed in the report. But again, we never stated there was equity. Indeed, even if there had been, out point would have been the same: the lack of a clear strategy, regardless the final figures which could have been reached by sheer luck.

      Regarding #3, IDRC actually has a very good model on gender. We recommend in our report that it is applied by default, as it was not in OD4D.

      Finally, on #4, mind that the report was not about data or open data, but about the OD4D program itself. Notwithstanding, you will have seen in our recommendations that we do encourage the program to establish more close relationships with national statistics offices, precisely to address the issue you are pointing at: producing more and better data as a pre-requisite to open data.

      I hope I clarified your doubts :)

      All the best,


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