The integration and analysis of data from multiple sources is critical for sustainable development. Data generated by donor-funded projects, governments, and for-profit companies – when adequately accessible and applied by all parties – provide a comprehensive asset towards improved monitoring and evaluation of investments, enable real-time evidence-based decisions, and heighten the effectiveness of national policies.
Accessible data also provides the insight needed by the private sector to make their investment decisions.
Program sustainability, the presumed objective of international donor organizations and government ministries, will be most efficiently reached with inclusion of the private sector. It is the private sector, from local small businesses to multi-national corporations, that will be ultimately motivated to invest in initiatives that will sustain economic growth and improve the livelihood of local communities.
While donor organizations are best equipped to move countries towards sustainability, and governments will establish national policies to promote sustainability, it is the private sector’s drive towards effective (and yes, profitable) value-chains in agriculture that will see developing countries reach long-term economic sustainability and growth. Here’s the catch though… private enterprise craves data. As chaotic and self-serving as outsiders may think the private sector to be, it is actually a relatively risk-adverse environment that is nourished and motivated by information. Without data – without localized insight and knowledge – private enterprise will not participate to any effective level in risky economies.
By ensuring that donor investments result in usable, accessible data and that governments share appropriate sub-national data the private sector will combine this data with their own to reduce investment risk and expand their motivation to participate in yet-to-be sustainable environments. Genetic crop research, trials data, seed production data, seed distribution data, and farmer adoption survey data from donor-funded projects can be integrated with contextual data such as weather or market locations enabling local farm supplier entrepreneurs with the insight they need to determine optimal inventories or education programs.
Accessible data and an interactive environment to collaborate with that data across the public and private sectors are the keys to ensure the highest value from donor investments and to ultimately realize sustainable projects and economies.