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Posted 1 November, 2016 by Paola

Meet our new Matchbox partners in Latin America: Causa Natura and Memoria y Ciudadania

Today, we are thrilled to announce our two new Matchbox partners in Latin America, who we’ll be working with over the next 12 months. Please give a warm welcome to Causa Natura and Memoria y Ciudadanía!

Matchbox is The Engine Room’s flagship support program, designed with transparency and accountability initiatives in mind. We provide support to partners in three main categories: Data, Technology and Overall strategy.  Our most powerful projects combine all three, with our partners tackling topics ranging from digitising politicians’ expenses, improving municipal compliance with access to information laws, monitoring petroleum exploration license sales, and many more.

We thought it would be worth explaining Matchbox’s Open Call process, the types of applications we received and why we chose to partner with these two organisations in particular. You’ll also find a summary of the projects the Matchbox team will be helping with, so you can see why we’re so excited about working on the two projects.

Looking back on the Open Call

During the three month Matchbox selection process, we received and reviewed over 60 applications from activists around Latin America who asked for our help to design comprehensive, effective data and technology projects for increased transparency and accountability.

The kinds of support they asked for differed widely from applicant to applicant, precisely because each organization is unique in terms of their profile, mission, strengths, and challenges. We had applicants from Chile to Mexico and 13 countries in between. From small, newly founded organizations to larger, well established ones. From grassroots activists to high level political advocates. From non-profit organizations to journalists.

The specific projects that these organizations put forward also varied greatly, as did  the topics of support requested. From local government open data portals to evaluating government agencies’ compliance with access to information laws. From mapping the relationships of political actors through detecting corruption on a regional level to mapping potential corruption cases on a national level. From platforms denouncing petty and grand corruption to platforms monitoring legislative projects. From narrative-driven digital media projects to data-driven advocacy projects.

The Matchbox Selection Process

With so many interesting and high quality applications to choose from, selecting only two partners proved to be challenging. We developed a three-stage selection process with our own criteria, in an effort to evaluate the projects in the most fair, holistic, systematic way possible, while not losing a sense of the human connection. We will be sharing our partnership criteria as we further refine and develop it based on this experience.

After an intense three month selection process, we found our new Latin American Matchbox partners who we will be working with over the next year.

causa natura

Causa Natura

  • Country: Mexico
  • Website: http://causanatura.org/
  • Topic: Public policy for the management of natural resources in Mexico

“Thanks to our collaboration with Matchbox thus far, we were able to harmonize the team’s ideas in a participative space, enabling us to enrich the planning process of Pescando Datos (Fishing for Data). We are excited to count with the support of this team of professionals in the application of tech and data that will support our mission of achieving greater equality, transparency, and accountability of the distribution of resources in fisheries around Mexico.”

The Mexican advocacy organization, Causa Natura will partner with Matchbox to work on their project that seeks to improve the management of natural resources, specifically fisheries, while increasing transparency in the sector.

Their project “Pescando Datos” (“Fishing for Data”) seeks to combat corruption in Mexican fisheries by empowering fishermen and women to succeed in the system, by informing them about how the system works, and by ensuring that their rights are protected and respected. Causa Natura will open, visualize, and analyze data that will inform their high level advocacy work as well as their partners, while at the same time will also reach out to the fishery communities that directly benefit from this information. The data will show how subsidies are allocated and how fishing rights are granted currently. With a clear analysis of the data, Causa Natura seeks to reallocate the decision making power from the hands of a few to the hands of the many.

Our first challenge will be to design a platform for two vastly different publics: high level advocacy organizations and the fishery communities themselves. We will then work on gathering, cleaning, and structuring datasets related to fisheries related subsidies. Next, we will analyze this data, and finally, we are planning to present and visualize the collected information on a platform. Using human centered design techniques, we will support Causa Natura to design and develop this platform, paying special attention to the needs of its users.

This project will fuel further research and advocacy work by both Causa Natura and other advocacy and community based organizations they work with. In addition, Matchbox will assist them with their overall strategy, as well as their advocacy and outreach efforts.

In addition to the partnership with Matchbox, to execute this project, Causa Natura is also partnering with Fundar, DataMares, and  other civil society organizations to further develop their data analysis skills, to outreach with fishery communities, and to propell their advocacy work.

Matchbox programme from the Engine Room welcomes Causa Natura and Memoria y Ciudadania

The Matchbox and Causa Natura teams

Memoria y Ciudadanía

  • Country: Peru
  • Website: Coming soon…
  • Topic: Documenting historic corruption cases to prevent future ones

“We hope that Matchbox helps us in introducing us to experiences similar to ours in other countries and in finding the technological tools that will enable us to present information to our country’s citizens, including on corruption cases, their protagonists, and their connections to the Peruvian government.”

A brand new Peruvian organization, Memoria y Ciudadania will partner with Matchbox to launch their platform that tells the story of systematic corruption in Peru over the past 30 years – and seeks to prevent further cases -, through data analysis, visualizations, and storytelling tools.

Over the past few years, the two women behind this organization, one archivist and one data journalist, have been collecting, systematizing, and digitalizing information and data on the most relevant corruption cases the country has witnessed over the past three decades. The information and data they’ve gathered comes from official reports, testimonies, court records, publications, news reports, photos, videos, and more

With the support of Matchbox, we will design and develop a platform that will house all this structured information and datasets related to these corruption cases of the past three decades. We will begin by piloting one of the most notoriously corrupt and violent eras in Peruvian politics, the years of Alberto Fujimori presidency from 1990 to 2000, when $600 million of public funds disappeared. Fujimori famously documented every bribe and kickback; Memoria y Ciudadania have meticulously collected all this information and data. The Fujimori name made another appearance in Peruvian politics last year when Keiko Fujimori, Alberto’s daughter, was nearly elected President.

After the Fujimori years pilot launched, Memoria y Ciudadania will gradually add more data and documents to the database. They also will develop a crowdsource platform to collect additional resources, encouraging citizens to upload other relevant documents. Users will be able to search, view and use the data gathered for their own investigative and advocacy work.

Along with this searchable database, Memoria y Ciudadania seeks to map the relationships between politically exposed persons, specifically those involved in past corruption cases.  Because the ultimate objective of the project is to prevent future cases of corruption by keeping a collective, political memory alive, the team will be constantly investigating new corruption scandals, connecting them with past cases, and communicating these relationships to the general public and activists.

Because their work includes a significant communications piece, they will execute this project along with their strategic ally the Peruvian investigative journalism outlet, Convoca.

We will also work together to develop a communications plan, and help develop a network of strategic partnerships with other advocacy organizations and media outlets.

Moving forward

Over the next year, we will be publishing regular updates on our progress, challenges we may face, and what we’re learning with our partners.

A huge thank you to all who participated in the call for Matchbox applications. We hope that this experience was as enriching for you as it was for us. We were truly impressed with the caliber of the projects and are optimistic about the future of a region with so many motivated and bright minds working towards a more transparent and just society.

We love hearing about new projects. If you didn’t get a chance to apply to become a Matchbox partner and you’re seeking help to improve your social change project, get in touch! We are always available to have a conversation about your project, helping answer questions about data and technology, planning advocacy strategy, or making connections with like-minded activists around the world.

If you want to talk to our team, schedule a meeting with The Engine Room team here. If you’re interested in getting to know more about Matchbox, contact the Latin American Matchbox team directly – anca@theengineroom.org and paola@theengineroom.org.

Our virtual door is always open!

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