The data we take for granted
First published February 28, 2017
Today I met with members of two mining affected communities in Palawan. This was part of a session we did for the Publish What You Pay Data Extractors Workshop last week. When I asked them if they've used EITI reports and other extractives data before, they said no.
I continued to ask.
They want to know how much the mining company paid their local chieftains. They asked how much the mining company is making. They want to know if expansion projects in their mountains will push through. It went on.
How important is extractives data to communities?
It can tell them why they received x amount. It can tell them if the amount they received is correct and whether it's fair. It makes their local leaders accountable to them. It makes allocation of these money more transparent which then invites scrutiny and engagement. I can go on and on until this list reaches Pluto. Data matters. Two words yet they means so much.
It's just disheartening to know that some communities who are most affected by extractive operations are barely reached by data that matters to them. The community members I met may not speak of their entire community but it tells us how much more we need to do to make relevant extractives data reach communities.
Before the communiy members left, I gave them a copy of pages from the EITI report pertaining to the company in their community. They were surprised. They wanted to confirm with their chieftains how much they received from the amount mentioned in the report. They were puzzled. They started asking even more questions amongst themselves. I was beyond words.
I walked away knowing that I now have one more reason to wake up in the morning. One more reason to work harder.