Case study ● Research

Responsible Data at Oxfam

In 2015, Oxfam was the first international NGO to develop a Responsible Data policy. Two years on, we looked into how Oxfam’s Responsible Data policy is being translated into practice.

What does it mean to implement a Responsible Data policy?

Since adopting the Responsible Data policy, Oxfam has been working towards its implementation by developing practical resources and piloting the policy in six countries, each chosen intentionally as they have different issue focus areas and different contexts.

Meanwhile, the Responsible Data community has continued to grow, and we’ve been thrilled to see responsible data policies taking root in an increasing number of organisations like USAID, the Catholic Relief Services and Africa’s Voices.

We helped Oxfam understand how the concept of responsible data is perceived within the confederation, and how the Responsible Data policy is being implemented in practice – is it changing project-level implementation on a practical level, or rather on an ideological level of raising awareness around these issue? 

Mapping the challenges

Gathering stories
We interviewed Oxfam staff to learn about how they perceive the concept of responsible data and the implementation of the policy.

Looking into the available tools and applications
We reviewed responsible data resources created by Oxfam, many of which have been put online and made available to others to use.

Identifying challenges
We identified the challenges that Oxfam is facing in implementing the Responsible Data policy, and listed a number of recommendations.

‘Thanks to the Responsible Data Policy, our data collection framework was very well structured and systematic – now we have become much more alert, on several fronts: for the in-depth process, how this is being handled, the access to the data, the confidentiality agreement.’

– An interviewee and Oxfam staff member

We compiled all our findings in a report, which is available freely online. Although the recommendations are specific to Oxfam’s context, we hope that other organisations will also be able to take away ideas, and find inspiration in Oxfam’s commitment to responsible data.

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