From data to information
The past year, CNV Internationaal started working with software that uses a suite of tools for field data collection, called the KoboToolbox, which sugar unions use to directly gather information from workers via a survey, therefore finding out for example what the piece wage for cutting tons of sugar cane during an extremely long day is in reality. This has already yielded valuable data in the form of Excel sheets.
From information to knowledge
But still, more needs to be done. In this form, the results are not yet useful. For CNV Internationaal and its union partners, it is still difficult to make an analysis with those results that is really useful and provides clear insight.
From knowledge to dialogue
What is missing is a simple dashboard to retrieve the collected information. CNV Internationaal wants to work more towards “data-driven” decision making. They want to convert data into clear images that they can literally include in their dialogue strategy.
From dialogue to impact
If unions manage to complete a successful lobby and make agreements, then that is really just the beginning. A year later, CNV Internationaal wants to be able to see whether those agreements have had an impact and really improved. They want to know which companies keep to the agreements and which do not. This is of course possible with a regular survey. But with a handy digital system, you have the information available faster and you can ask a lot of employees for input in a short time.
From impact to progress
Research and data collection are not new. But this is usually done by outside experts. What is new about this initiative of participatory monitoring is that the unions of the sugar cane cutters who are involved, collect the data themselves via KoboTools and are involved in the analysis of the results. They, themselves, are the researchers and own the data with which they ensure that their voice can be heard throughout the chain.
In the course of the preparatory process, enthusiasm at CNV Internationaal and Data4Development has only grown. But, as it goes, answering a question often adds three new questions. How do you make clear questions? So that the answers are reliable. How do you take such a survey, mobile via an app, or with a laptop via the website? Or can it also be done via WhatsApp? Are employees digital enough to do this themselves and how can we increase their capacity? Certainly, we still have a lot of work to do.
The most important thing is that we made a start. This project directly lets the voice of the workers at the beginning of international production chains be heard, from sugar capers to garment makers and from miners to palm oil workers. It gives unions a solid basis for making their lobbying strategy more effective. Over time, they gain a better understanding of the results of their work. And, not to forget, with the results in hand, the unions can communicate clearly with their members about how we work together there and here to achieve fair wages. In the coming period, we will report on the pilots in Latin America, among others.