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Open call for proposals: data journalism and property rights grants


The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting has issued an open call for proposals for data journalism projects focused on land rights and property rights. Applications are open until May 1, 2017. Read their full release below or at their blog.


The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a grant-giving non-profit organization that supports independent global journalism, is seeking applications for data-driven journalism projects related to land rights and property rights. 

We are eager to see proposals that use open data to reveal new perspectives on property rights issues related to land tenure, indigenous land rights, transparency in land transactions and concessions, resource rights, or overlapping land use rights—just to name a few. 

We are seeking data-driven stories that utilize the tools of the trade—satellite imagery, 360° cameras, drones, sensors, data visualizations, and interactive maps/graphics—but ultimately how to tell the story is up to you.

We encourage applicants to experiment with open data from a variety of sectors, for example: health data, investment data, law enforcement data, data from offshore and illicit financial flows, agribusiness data, development aid data, or population data to reveal new stories and under-reported issues related to land tenure and property rights. We will also welcome proposals that seek to vet or verify datasets related to property rights generated by NGO’s, governments, or multilateral development banks. After publication, when possible, the datasets created during this grant period will be released for the public good.

During this special opportunity, we will select three separate data-driven story proposals for grants. We will consider projects of any scope and size. We will award three grants for a total of $75,000. Please choose a team leader to submit the proposal, and submit only one project per journalist, data design team, or newsroom.

This grant opportunity is now open, and applicants are encouraged to submit their proposals for this opportunity by May 1, 2017. Apply here. Be sure to select the box marked "Data Journalism and Property Rights" on the application.

To apply, please include the following:

  • A description of the proposed project, including distribution/publication plan, no more than 250 words. If you have a letter from interested producers or editors please include it.
  • A preliminary budget estimate, including a basic breakdown of costs.  Include travel costs, software, satellite/GIS, or hardware costs.  Please do not include stipends for journalists/team members who are in the employ of newsrooms or are being paid by a publisher.  If you are a journalist collaborating with a data designer and/or data visual specialist you may include consultant fees in your budget.
  • Three samples of published work by you (or someone your project team) —data visualizations, infographics, and/or data-driven stories.
  • Three professional references. These can be either contact information or letters of recommendation.
  • A copy of your resume or curriculum vitae.
  • Applications may also include a more detailed description of project, but this will be considered as optional supplement only. The most important part of the submission is the 250-word summary.
  • If you have questions about this call for applications please email us at

IDI releases report into World Bank’s investments in SE Asia


Inclusive Development International, in collaboration with Bank Information Center, Accountability Counsel, Urgewald, 11.11.11, Ulu Foundation and Tarkapaw Youth Group, has released an investigative report into the International Finance Corporation's hidden investments in Southeast Asia. Read their full release below.


Out of control: The World Bank’s reckless private sector investments in Southeast Asia exposed

Dozens of harmful and high-risk projects in Southeast Asia have received hidden funding from the World Bank Group, an ongoing investigation by Inclusive Development International has revealed. The International Finance Corporation, the World Bank’s private-sector arm, is surreptitiously channeling money to these projects through for-profit financial intermediaries, such as commercial banks and private equity funds.

The IFC’s financial-sector clients have funded some of the region’s most destructive projects, contravening the Performance Standards, the institution’s social and environmental guidelines. These projects include mega-hydropower dams in Vietnam and Cambodia, dirty coal-fired power plants and mines in the Philippines, Vietnam and Myanmar, and massive agro-industrial land grabs in Cambodia and Laos.

Inclusive Development International, in collaboration with Bank Information Center, Accountability Counsel, Urgewald, 11.11.11, Ulu Foundation and Tarkapaw Youth Group, has today released a report detailing these findings, Reckless Development: The IFC’s Dodgy Deals in Southeast Asia. The report is the third installment of an ongoing investigation, Outsourcing Development: Lifting the Veil on the World Bank's Lending Through Financial Intermediaries, which follows the trail of IFC money globally and looks at how it impacts people on the ground in developing countries.

“Once again we have found that outsourcing the World Bank Group’s development mandate to private financial institutions is a recipe for disaster,” said David Pred, Managing Director of Inclusive Development International.

The report confirms the most damning conclusions of a monitoring report released last week by the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO), the IFC’s independent watchdog. The CAO report found systemic non-compliance by the IFC with its policies and procedures across all stages of the investment process in a sample of financial intermediary investments. 

“IFC does not, in general, have a basis to assess [financial intermediary] clients’ compliance with its [environmental and social] requirements,” the report states. This is “highly problematic” in high-risk projects where the IFC “does not have assurance” that its requirements are being implemented in the projects funded by its intermediaries, the CAO concludes.

“When we look at the actual projects that IFC’s intermediaries are funding in Southeast Asia, we see no evidence that IFC’s standards are being respected,” Pred said. “On the contrary, we see a trail of human suffering and environmental devastation from the Indonesian archipelago to the highlands of Laos and Vietnam.  This is the bulk of IFC's business, and its out of control.”

The IFC’s due diligence failures have exposed the development bank to harmful projects across the region, according to this latest research.

In Vietnam, the IFC owns a large stake in Vietinbank, a majority state-owned commercial bank that has funded destructive hydropower dams, including the devastating Son La project, which was estimated to have displaced 91,000 people without providing adequate compensation and resettlement assistance. Vietinbank has lent billions of dollars to Son La’s owner, Electricity of Vietnam, which also has a stake in the highly controversial Lower Sesan 2 dam in Cambodia. Lower Sesan 2 is expected to profoundly harm the Mekong River’s fish stocks and damage food security for hundreds of thousands of people.

Vinacomin, which has also received Vietinbank funding, owns bauxite mines that have polluted and decimated large swathes of the country’s pristine Central Highlands. In addition, Vieitinbank has financed coal plants and the companies that operate them, including the controversial 6,224-megawatt Vinh Tan project, which have evicted landowners and polluted the air and water.

Meanwhile, in Laos and Cambodia another Vietinbank client, Vietnam Rubber Group, has developed massive industrial rubber plantations on the ancestral domains of the region’s indigenous peoples, resulting in widespread deforestation, forced displacement, and other human rights abuses.

In Indonesia, the IFC owns approximately 20 percent of an infrastructure finance facility that has funded a number of problematic projects, raising widespread concerns among Indonesian civil society groups. The facility has failed to implement IFC standards on information disclosure, consultation, and environmental and social protection.

In Myanmar, the IFC is exposed to the Ban Chaung coal mine, which is expected to harm 16,000 indigenous people in a region that experienced 70 years of civil conflict. The project is polluting water sources, contaminating agricultural land, and causing uncontrollable fires that release toxic fumes. The IFC is exposed to the project through equity investments in two large commercial banks, Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank and The Postal Savings Bank of China.

“After 70 years of civil war, the people of Ban Chaung are trying to rebuild their lives again from zero. But rather than focusing on community development and improving education, health and livelihoods, we have had to spend five years fighting with this company that is trying to take away everything,” said Naw Pe Tha Law of the Tarkapaw Youth Group.

These investments in Southeast Asia fit a global pattern. The IFC is increasingly outsourcing its development funds to commercial banks and private equity funds, which generate enormous profit for the World Bank Group. Although these IFC clients are required to apply the Performance Standards to their investments, there is little evidence that this is occurring. In 2016, the IFC made more than $5 billion in new commitments to financial intermediaries, bringing its total outstanding commitments by year’s end to $20.4 billion.

"It is time for the directors of the World Bank to bring the IFC under control,” said Kate Geary, Forest Campaign Manager for Bank Information Centre, Europe. “This murky lending is resulting in appalling human suffering and environmental damage, so first steps must be for the IFC to open up about where its money goes, and curtail its high risk lending until it can show it does no harm."

Reckless Development: The IFC’s Dodgy Deals in Southeast Asia can be downloaded here.

Further reporting from the Outsourcing Development investigation is available here

IDI's database of IFC financial intermediary sub-investments with serious social, environmental and human rights risks and impacts is available here.


ODM to host Open Data Day Vientiane


In coordination with the International Open Data Day, Open Development Mekong, in collaboration with the Faculty of Forestry Science, National University of Laos, is hosting an event in Vientiane to begin to build a community of open data* enthusiasts among students, researchers, professors, and civil society professionals. This event is open to the public.

* For the benefit of those who are new to the concept, open data is data that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone - subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and sharealike.


13:30 - 14:00 : Registration and networking

14:00 - 14:30 : Introduction to open data concepts and how it benefits research

14:30 - 15:00 : Interactive quiz with audience members -- top five winners will be rewarded with prizes

15:00 - 16:00 : Introduction to information sharing and open data platforms offering information related to environment and natural resources for students and researchers

16:00 - 17:00 : Participatory translation exercise of key open data terms and demonstration of ways to contribute translation of the Open Data Handbook into Lao

Foods and non-alcoholic drinks will be provided throughout the sessions.

This event will be highly educational for all involved, giving everyone a chance to learn about and discuss the possibilities of open data and open development for Laos. Please share the invitation with those who might be interested.


SERVIR-Mekong seeks Science and Data Lead


Open Development Initiative partners SERVIR-Mekong are seeking experienced candidates for a key position in their team. Please see below for their call for applications, and see their website for more detail on how to apply.

The Science and Data Lead is the principal technical expert in the SERVIR-Mekong hub and the primary technical contact with the NASA science team. The Science and Data Lead reports directly to the SERVIR-Mekong Chief of Party. S/he will take a leadership role in the development and delivery of scientific products and maintain an active network of clients and technical partners in the region. Primarily, s/he will lead the efforts of the wider SERVIR-Mekong technical team to develop new, high quality user-tailored data, tools, applications, and models to address on-the-ground priorities of the Lower Mekong region, but s/he will also contribute to capacity-building of clients, facilitate improved information sharing and active use of geospatial information for decision making in the region, and help ensure sustainability of hub functions at ADPC. 


ODM, Land Portal host Open Data Festival in Yangon


You're invited! Phandeeyar, Open Development Mekong and the Land Portal Foundation are pleased to invite you to an International Open Data Festival on 26 February from 5 p.m to 9 p.m at the the Phandeeyar event space.

The festival has a dynamic program featuring a talk show with renowned Thomson Reuters Journalist Thin Lei Win from Thailand, Muchiri Nyaggah, open data expert and Executive Director of the Local Development Research Institute in Nairobi, Kenya, interventions from OneMap Myanmar and others.

The program also includes ‘lightning talks’ from local and international initiatives focused on open data. If you would like to present your open data project as a lightning talk please let us know.

Organizations from Myanmar and around the world will have information tables and share information about their work. If you would like to reserve a table to share your work with the international and local open data communit, let us know too.

An evening meal will be served free of charged. Local music/entertainment by will be provided by a DJ.



Earthrights International releases statement on IFC/Tata Mundra coal plant case


EarthRights International has released a statement on the status of their case against the International Finance Corporation in federal court in Washington D.C.

"Local fishing communities and farmers represented by EarthRights International (ERI) are suing the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in federal court in Washington, D.C. over the destruction of their livelihoods, loss and damage to their property, and the threats to their health caused by the IFC-funded coal-fired power plant in the Kutch District of Gujarat, India.​"

Read their statement in full and access a range of resources about the case and the Tata Mundra coal plant here.


MRLG invites participants for Mekong customary tenure dialogue


The Mekong Region Land Governance Project is seeking participants for an online dialogue on Recognition of Customary Tenure in the Mekong region, taking place between February 13-24, 2017.

Please see below for their invitation, register for attendance at their website, and contact for more information.



The Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG) project and the Land Portal invite you to join our online dialogue on the Recognition of Customary Tenure in the Mekong Region, from 13-24 February. The dialogue will focus on exploring the challenges and opportunities related to the recognition of indigenous, ethnic minority and community tenure rights in the Mekong region. Participants, from the Mekong region and around the world, will examine the status of community tenure rights and share ideas on how to strengthen them.

The dialogue will:

Increase information exchange between participants inside and outside the region;

Identify issues of common interest;

Compare and contrast regional and international contexts and experiences in customary tenure recognition that can inform potential strategies and actions at country and regional level.

Generate a regional level synthesis of key challenges and opportunities related to community tenure in the Mekong region that will be shared broadly.

A final report will be published and publicly available online following the dialogue.

Your participation will help ensure a rich discussion.

For more information

Dialogue questions

Here are the questions that will guide our discussion. We look forward to hearing what you think on these issues.

What is customary tenure? Is it the same as “traditional tenure arrangements of indigenous people/ ethnic minorities"?

Why is securing customary tenure rights important?

To differing extents, there are policies recognizing customary tenure in all countries in the Mekong region. However, progress towards securing indigenous, ethnic minority and community tenure rights has been hampered by the cumbersome requirements for achieving formal recognition, reflecting in part the tension between local and state authority. In your opinion, what would be required to strengthen the recognition of indigenous, ethnic minority and community tenure rights in the region?

Since it takes a long time for regulatory revisions recognizing customary tenure to be made and implemented, how effective have interim protection measures been? What are some examples?

We know that in customary systems there is often a mixture of communal land (e.g. collectively managed shifting cultivation areas and forest areas) and plots claimed by individual families (e.g. paddy land or upland plots with long-term crops). What is the best way to recognize the variety of tenure rights in customary systems?

Customary systems, particularly norms governing the internal management of communal land, are often characterized as having higher levels of equality compared to private property regimes. Nevertheless, customary systems may also exhibit gender inequality and/or other forms of exclusions as a result of local power dynamics. How can statuary recognition of customary rights ensure that equity considerations, including principles of transparency and inclusive decision-making, are adhered to in customary systems?

There are concerns that the recognition of customary tenure, which sometimes lead to unique categorizations of “indigenous” land where communities can continue to practice “traditional livelihoods” (in some cases with restrictions on community involvement in commercial activities), may not help alleviate conditions of poverty, food insecurity and vulnerability experienced in many communities. Is it possible to combine recognition of customary tenure rights and forestry/agricultural development through investment/commercial activity? Are there examples where this has been done successfully?

What strategies can be taken to defend, strengthen and promote customary rights in the Mekong region? How can regional dialogues facilitate greater recognition of the rights and priorities of local communities, including addressing issues of power and politics?

How to join the dialogue

We encourage you, your colleagues, and anyone with an interest in land issues to participate. The dialogue will be conducted in English to facilitate transnational communication. We can provide English editorial assistance to contributors, as needed.

Please feel free to answer any of the dialogue questions that interest you and then upload your contributions online.

Please keep your contributions brief - not more than 500 words, shorter is fine too. We welcome as many contributions as you wish.

Once the dialogue begins, we encourage you to follow the online discussion. As a registered participant, you'll have the opportunity to ask questions and make comments. You may also make new contributions at any time, as ideas occur to you. This will make for a lively discussion!

The dialogue will also be open for anyone to follow online even without registration. Only registered participant can contribute with comments and questions.

Please feel free to share this invitation with others.

If you have any questions, please contact us at:


CFI announces data journalism training program for ASEAN countries


CFI, France's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development's media cooperation agency, has launched a training program to support news organizations execute empowering data journalism projects. They are accepting applications until March 8, 2017.

See below for the full announcement text and visit their website for more details.

2017-03-08 13:00:00 GMT/UTC

Do you have an idea for a great data journalism project that could impact on local communities or tackle topics related to people’s rights and freedom in ASEAN countries? Are you a media organization eager to learn about data journalism, visualizations and how to future-proof (sustainability) your work? This three weeks programme will help you realize a data-driven project from start to finish and learn new skills along the way.


This programme is part of a CFI project called 4M Asia, which aims to develop new skills on the part of media stakeholders to promote new journalistic forms allowing broader expression of the diversity of opinion within society. For more information, see the full 4M Asia project here.


The aim of this call for applications is to select 12 media organizations from ASEAN countries, and for each of them, support the realization of a data-driven project (article/data story, data visualization or other interactive), through a workshop and training programme taking place between May and October 2017. After the end of this programme, you must have set up at least one digital project, attract new public (widen the target audience) with data driven articles and increase your audience using data visualization.

Schedule and key dates

Launch date: 07 February 2017
Online platform application deadline: 8 March 2017 (1pm GMT, no extension)
Announcement of selected candidates: 21 March 2017

- First workshop: How to kickstart a data journalism project
How do you collect, find and understand data? This first workshop will tackle basic data journalism techniques and teach you how to launch a data-driven project in your newsroom.
Date: beginning of May 2017 (5 days).
Location: Phnom Penh (Cambodia).

- Second workshop: How to bring a project to life with data visualization and interactives
Acquire the skills to create data visualizations and other data-driven interactives and apply them to your own project.
Date: beginning of July 2017 (5 days)
Location: Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)

- Third workshop: How to future-proof a data journalism project
Tackle subjects such as monetization, viability and community interaction to ensure your project is impactful and sustainable in the long term.
Date: mid-October 2017 (5 days)
Location: Manila (Philippines)

Please note that these dates are provisional. CFI reserves the possibility to modify this schedule on the basis of received applications.

Who can apply?

- Media organizations based in ASEAN countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.
- Applicants who are fluent in English (although the project itself can be realized in your local language).
- Applicants of all levels in data journalism.

Why should I apply?

- This programme is a great opportunity for your media organization to gain new skills in every aspects of data journalism.
- By the end of the three workshops, you will achieve a data journalism project from start to finish with help from international experts.
- Your staff will get to meet other journalists from various countries in Asean countries and learn from their experiences.
- Submitting a project and taking part in the programme is free, so why not giving it a try?

Assessment criteria

- Editorial relevance (50/100):
We are looking for data journalism projects which tackle a topical issue in a pertinent and innovative way, which bring a new angle to issues related to communities, people’s rights and freedom and potentially bring positive outlook on the matter. Tackling a topic of public interest which could achieve political (democracy, reforms) social, environmental or economical impact or issues is also a plus.

- Potential for innovation (20/100):
We will select projects which use new innovative techniques in terms of data journalism, whether that shows in the level of interactivity of the end-product itself, the technology used to make it happen or any other ideas.

Note that knowing what end product or types of visualizations you will create for this project is not compulsory to apply for this project, but can help the jury a great deal during the selection process. If you don’t have the knowledge yet to fully grasp how innovative your project could be, give us as many ideas as you can and if your application is shortlisted.

- Openness (30/100):
We will put special emphasis on projects which use open data or make data open, publish their data under open licenses via an interactive platform or show a high level of transparency and engagement with a community. We are looking for projects which empower their audience by giving access to information or data otherwise unattainable. If you have in mind to make a project that could hold the powerfuls accountable, we want to hear from you!

Also, if your project end up being either an interactive data visualization, a mobile application or any other type of interactive products, we will encourage you to publish your work via an open licence or API.


EarthRights International hosts Mekong Legal Advocacy Institute


EarthRights International has hosted the annual Mekong Legal Advocacy Institute forum in Chiang Mai, Thailand bringing together 15 fifteen young lawyers and campaigners from the six Mekong countries: Cambodia, China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Read more about this event and its outcomes at their blog post, Forging Connections Along The Mekong.


EITI calls for structured open data disclosures from government, industry


The Extractive Industries Transparency Iniative has proposed that its data disclosure model be used as a leveraging tool for institutional embrace of structured open data disclosures in the state and private sectors of developing countries. 

Mr Djibi Sow, Senior Adviser to the Prime Minister and Chair of the EITI multi-stakeholder group in Mauritania, walks through Mauritania's progress and cites open data portals as other leveragable tools to help implement this institutional shift. He writes:

"Mauritania has a strong tradition of nomadic herding, a vibrant culture of communication, trading and kindness to strangers. It has an opportunity to apply the same principles through the EITI. The EITI provides a framework for government and company disclosures. A key focus of this work is promoting open data.

As Mauritania’s EITI reporting has become more timely, with preparations for the 2015 EITI Report now underway, the next step will be to embed disclosures of information required under the EITI Standard into routine government and company systems. Mauritania has a number of online information portals that provide limited extractives information, such as the Mauritanian Development Portal, the Private Sector Promotion Directorate, the Treasury and MPEM’s two websites (here and here). Moving beyond standalone EITI reporting in a static PDF format, Mauritania has the opportunity to use the EITI as a tool for structuring government open data disclosures. Other countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mongolia, Timor-Leste and the United States of America are doing the same."

Read the rest of his fascinating post at the EITI blog.


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