Crowdsourcing Humanitarian Data for Venezuela through the BetterTogether Challenge

Crowdsourcing Humanitarian Data for Venezuela through the BetterTogether Challenge


By Daniela Rubio | Program Manager

The BetterTogether Challenge, also known as JuntosEsMejor, was launched by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Inter American Development Bank in October of 2019 as a means of crowdsourcing ways to address the problems facing the crisis in Venezuela. The man-made political, social and economic crisis ongoing in Venezuela continues to result in severe gaps and shortages in basic service provision and has led to over 5 million displaced people and the 2020 Humanitarian Needs Overview and Humanitarian Response Plan for Venezuela estimates there were 7 million people in need in 2019. 

Yet these topline numbers mask another man-made challenge – the efforts to control what data is collected and used by the international community to address the crisis. There is currently a dearth of high resolution, up-to-date, data on service deficiencies and no support for primary data collection. The problem is even worse in underserved, neglected and marginalized communities where the government has less presence and thus little data is collected at all. The result is that humanitarian actors operating in Venezuela struggle to effectively design, target, implement and monitor assistance.

This situation has a dramatic impact on local organizations involved in basic service delivery inside Venezuela. Premise applied to the BetterTogether Challenge because we wanted to help Venezuelan humanitarian clusters and NGOs access data on basic service needs and train them on how to incorporate that data into decision making so their basic service activities will be evidence-based, more coordinated, and better targeted, resulting in improved access to and availability of basic services in Venezuela. 

After a competitive procurement process, Premise was selected as a Tier 3 (validation) recipient providing a unique solution unmatched in the development space. With previous experience as a Zika Grand Challenge Winner Premise Data is ready to scale its innovative data collection and analytics solution to improve basic service delivery and access to information within Venezuela. Through our work around Zika, it really illustrated how data collection requires a vast amount of resources and time, and organizations should be spending more of their limited resources making decisions and executing solutions rather than collecting data, which can be outsourced.

View of the Premise app

Premise transforms any individual with a smartphone into part of a community-based data collection capability. Premise has created a distributed network of more than 40,865 Venezuelan local data contributors who are already making money completing data collection tasks in their community under a gig economy-based model. 

Premise will leverage this growing network to collect data that populates a common operating picture of local service delivery needs in the country that is specifically designed to connect 90 Venezuelan NGOs and other local actors to accurate, high resolution, data that is up to date in a way that effectively addresses service deficiencies and increases communication and coordination between those organizations.

The initial group includes a relevant cross-section of humanitarian, human rights, civil society and charitable action organizations, covering six out of the eleven established humanitarian sectors, and with programs present in 21 states covering almost all of Venezuela’s territory.

The initial requests for information include a series of surveys and tasks that aim to help monitor food security, access to health care, water access, and mobility and transportation. The instruments Premise is using to collect data are based on standardized humanitarian assistance instruments and indexes developed by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the food and agriculture organizations such as the Food Consumption Score (FCS) and the Household Dietary Diversity Score (HDDS).

Each survey is currently focusing on four key regions for the local organizations (Caracas, Miranda, Tachira and Zulia). Premise is collecting a statistically significant sample per region (based on local population size) and assuring gender equity within the sample. Gender equity is an extremely important facet of this project, and any humanitarian data collection effort for that matter, because oftentimes women are not accounted for in the data collection to the same degree as men and thus it doesn’t represent that women face for instance in healthcare or education. As a result, IDB and USAID have made it an objective to include a gender perspective in all of their programs across the world, with the intention to close the gap in terms of basic service delivery (health education, etc.) in the humanitarian assistance space.

For this project, Premise is partnering with Code for Venezuela. Premise will give Code for Venezuela access to the raw data captured through the Premise App so they can integrate it into their Angostura platform. Using their diaspora network of Venezuelan professionals located across the U.S. Code for Venezuela will analyze the data to generate visualizations for the organizations. They are currently planning a hackathon to take place in October.

Frontpage of the dashboard create for NGOs

A key innovation in the data collection process in Venezuela is that the dashboards will allow the organizations and humanitarian working groups to access up to date data. Previously, data was collected in person, limited to one point in time and limited to specific regions. A considerable amount of time had to be dedicated to entering the data into a system and then analyzing the data, so by the time this process was finished, months had passed. With Premise, organizations will have instant access to data and visualizations allowing them to jump right into the decision-making process and execution of better service delivery.

Snapshot of Weekly Food Consumption survey data that is used to create the Food Consumption Score (FCS)

As we work toward our goal of collecting up-to-date data for international and national NGOs that would help them make more informed decisions and deliver better basic services to Venezuelans, we will continue to share more insights and stories about our work on this project.

If you would like to learn more about how Premise can help you gather the data you need, feel free to reach out at info@premise.com.

About Daniela Rubio

Daniela Rubio, as a Program Manager, works with Premise clients and partners during the implementation of programs and projects in the international development space. She works cross-functionally with different teams at Premise including growth, engineering and solutions to make sure all aspects of our projects run smoothly. She provides insights to the marketing team and supports the product and sales teams in customer discovery discussions with potential clients and partners. She has more than 10 years of global experience helping organizations and governments tackle complex problems with strategic thinking, partnership and cultural empathy.