Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has inaugurated the Steering and Technical Committees of the Geo-Referencing Infrastructure and Demographic Data for Development (GRID3) to generate, validate and use geo-spatial data for developmental projects.
The GRID 3 Project, which is currently supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) operates in five African countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Sudan and Zambia.
The GRID is a programme provides a unique package of open access data generation, application support, and training with the aim of strengthening the foundation on which sustainable evidence-based development and humanitarian decision making is based.
Geo-spatial data generated by the GRID 3 is used in population, settlements, infrastructure and administrative boundaries.
At the short ceremony on Wednesday, Osinbajo said that “geo-spatial data of the scope and depth that is envisaged for this project is obviously important for all of our development objectives and all of our development ambitions.
“I think it is compelling and really does show that there is a great need for us and this will extremely good for us in planning and extremely good for anyone who is involved in the entire development enterprise.”
He noted that Nigeria’s financial inclusion initiatives will also benefit greatly from the GRID 3 Project.
Commending the ingenuity of the Nigeria GRID 3 project in having two committees, Osinbajo said that it would enable “data users and generators to come together and be able to interact at the same time.”
He pointed out the need for the governors of states in Nigeria to be more involved, even across the geo-political zones, in the project, saying that in most of the human capacity development issues and initiatives the sub-nationals are the most crucial.
“As a matter of fact they (states) are the ones that drive the initiatives. So, we must have them at the table if this is going to be as effective as we want it to be.”
Explaining the goals and responsibilities of the committees on the short and medium terms, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said that it would hold workshops and facilitate implementation of the project at the sub-national levels; establish data portal and build capacity for its maintenance, update and use; form steering committees to coordinate and oversee GRID 3 Nigeria; develop up a national Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) plan.
On the long-term goals, Ahmed said the committees would also work to achieve consensus on boundary delineations at ward and local government levels; develop and promote data usage on health, education, agriculture and water resources; and support planned population and housing census activities and surveys.
The committees will also, on the long-term, develop in-country capacity to maintain and drive GRID3 philosophy in a sustainable manner and continue to maintain and update portal.
The Nigerian National Steering Committee, NNSC, of GRID 3 has as its roles and responsibilities to ensure that GRID 3 aligns with national priority agenda; review and approve annual project work plans generated by the Nigerian National Technical Committee, NNTC; address resource mobilization needs that may arise and conduct high-level advocacy to promote shared project objectives and outcomes.
The roles and responsibilities of the NNTC would be to develop annual plans for the NNSC to approve; identify and prioritize government establishments for impactful GRID3 use cases; support the NNSC with high-level advocacy activities to promote shared objectives and outcomes; support development of a national strategic plan for geo-spatial infrastructure and demographic data; prepare and share the NNSC GRID 3 Use-Case reports.
Also speaking Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba, said that GRID 3 would support Nigeria in strengthening the application of geo-spatial data for evidence-based decision making and to promote effective coordination across stakeholders to support national development efforts.
Agba said the rationale for GRID 3 was the recognition of 2030 Agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals of the need for geo-spatial data system and because geo-spatial data identifies where people live and how critical services can be most equitably and effectively allocated.
The Country Director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Paul Basanga, in a goodwill message expressed hope that Nigeria would successfully eradicate the wide polio virus by the middle of next year.
Basanga said that the GRID programme started many years ago as a polio initiative and that the National Healthcare Development Agency piloted the initiative to make sure that every child would be reached by the vaccine.
“After that, this is one of the transitions that have really been impactful in terms of moving from owning polio to routine immunization to strengthening primary healthcare and to go even beyond to move into the Ministry of Budget and Plannning and now the Ministry of Finance altogether,” he said.
“It has been a successful example of ownership and institutionalization of decent practice. The Minister of Budget and National Planning mentioned that GRID is now in five countries.
“But we just remember that it started in Nigeria. So, those countries are really learning from Nigeria and I don’t think any of those countries has the type of use-case scenario that the team is driving in Nigeria.”