Seth Davis, Communications Officer/Programme Advisor, Community Systems Foundation
From 21 to 23 February 2019, the Second International Biennial Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education took place in Victoria, Seychelles.  Among the speakers at the conference was Elma Tershana, Director of the Observatory for Children and Youth Rights (www.observator.org.al), Albania, presenting on Promising practices in data management for resilient ECCE system. Presentation of good practices. Since 2009, The Observatory has been using DevInfo to monitoring and disseminate data related to children in Albania.
As the first Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) working on data management and visualization in the Balkan region, the Observatory for Children and Youth Rights (Observatory) successes using DevInfo span more than ten years and demonstrate the power of organizing, storing and presenting accurate data in Albania.
In her presentation in Seychelles, Elma detailed the work of the Observatory, actively collecting demographic, education, healthcare and social protection data as well as data on vulnerable children to address issues related to children’s rights in the country. Through visualizations created with DevInfo technologies, she highlighted the Observatory’s data analytics capability.
Through initial funding and support from UNICEF Albania, since 2009, the Observatory has aimed to monitor the status of children rights by tracking the progress of over 180 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). With the capacity to view these KPIs at the national, regional and municipal level, the Observatory has been a leading example of providing data evidence in the country, especially considering it is still largely absent in Albania (http://observator.org.al/odf2/index-en.html) .
As a pioneer of DevInfo in the country and region, the Observatory has used data derived from the monitoring platform in many ways.
In 2014, the Observatory along with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health and Municipality officials, collaborated with UNICEF to implement Roma Mapping. This programme was designed to respond to the many obstacles observed in respecting “Roma children’s rights, especially their inclusion in early childhood education, access to social and child protection services and access to health and welfare.” The programme enabled “social scientists to visit almost every known Roma settlement in the country to survey the institutions supporting them.” 
The Observatory, along with several other organizations in Albania, provided the necessary data to draft the Roma Children Access to Early Childhood Services in Albania report which aims to outline the successes and failures of the Roma Mapping project.
More recently, the Observatory partnered with the Albanian government to set up and develop the data for each new municipality in the country. In accordance with the new Territory reform (TAR), which reconfigured the municipalities of the country from 375 municipalities and communes to 61 municipalities, the Observatory used DevInfo technologies to map demographic and social indicators from the national level to the municipality level.
Operating in all twelve regions of Albania, the Observatory is able to capture data nationwide to assist the Albanian Parliament in preparation of reports and the development of strategies related to the concerns and needs of children.
In 2018, the Observatory prepared the Child Marriage: Knowledge, Attitudes, and Perceptions Among Affected Communities in Albania report which demonstrates that “Albania has a strong legislative framework to tackle child marriage,” however, notes “that the laws are not effectively or consistently implemented.” 
Through collected data, the Observatory was able to provide data and perspectives for eleven municipalities and highlight where child marriage interventions should be prioritized.
The Vision of Data Collection, Management and Dissemination in Albania
As the Observatory continues to collect, manage and disseminate data, focal points have recognized the challenges of monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
While the current DevInfo visualizations depict demographic and socio-economic indicators based on a selection of a region or municipality, Elma noted that the Observatory would like to transition the largely geographical maps into social maps that highlight the Observatory’s work on SDGs.
Given the shared data structure between DevInfo and the Data For All (DFA) platform, DFA would make for an easy transition and would provide the Observatory with a robust and modern data collection, management and dissemination platform to monitor and track real-time national and SDG progress.
Additionally, visualizing data on all SDGs, and specifically those related to children, would provide Albania with a better assessment of progress on the Global Goals and would further demonstrate to key governmental and international stakeholders the importance that data collection, management and dissemination have in creating targeted and meaningful interventions.
As an organization devoted to monitor human development initiatives related to children’s rights in Albania, the Observatory continues to demonstrate how global tools can be applied locally, enabling stakeholders at all levels to work collaboratively to create evidence-based decisions and use data to support development efforts in the country.
Community Systems Foundation applauds the excellent work of the Observatory for Children and Youth Rights and sees their work as an exemplary model of the use of data in the Balkan region.