I applied for the ABW data practitioner fellowship in 2022 while working at the United Nations Environment Programme headquarters in Kenya as a data analyst involved in applying statistical methods to increase the effectiveness of UNEP’s project management and monitoring.
The fellowship’s premise greatly appealed to my research interests which are in the use of analytics for social good hence my extended engagement with institutions working to promote socioeconomic growth and restore well-being. Therefore taking the plunge into a 3-month intensive commitment to improving my skills in analysis that was relevant to this field was largely a no-brainer.
In Kenya, solid waste accounts for roughly 35-40 million tons of all waste produced each year, 42% of which consists of plastic. My capstone project involved creating a data science tool for recommending potential plastic waste collection points in Nairobi, routing plastic waste collection trucks, and mapping dumpsites and passable road networks that will fit into a larger system that also includes credit scoring for incentives.
I currently work as a data analyst at Ona, a data analytics firm based in Nairobi and New York, where I develop heavily geospatial data-based solutions to social challenges and augment the work of clients such as the United Nations, and the fundamentals I acquired through the geospatial intensive during the fellowship allowed me to efficiently pivot into my current role and hit the ground running.
Besides the advanced technical skills offered by the fellowship, I would greatly recommend the fellowship to anyone who is interested in understanding how data is used to provide baseline information on sustainable solutions, encourage the inclusion of marginalized communities, and guide the creation of projects with an environmental impact focus.
The guest lectures and discussions with my mentors helped bridge the gap between my theoretical understanding of developing solutions and my desire to come up with tangible disruptive innovations through emerging technology that can become useful solutions to challenges on my home continent. ‘