Last week was one of my best and a good one for democracy as I had the opportunity of participating in a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) training organized by Cloneshouse Nigeria. Pre this training, I had a contracted knowledge of the M&E process (also referred in this piece as The Process) albeit I was quite aware that its skills are amongst the most requested of, in the non-profit development space. The only thing I could remember on M&E was one of my International Economics professor’s comments that inadequate M&E frameworks are one of the problems facing governance in Africa. As someone passionate about knowledge, outstandingly so when it concerns development, my interest and expectations from the training were hyper-raised.
What I did immediately was to seek permission from my boss to attend the training and scan through most of my Masters’ education briefs in International Economic Policy Analysis to probably get a deeper insight into what The Process was all about. I also went online, trying to have a briefing about the theme. Summary of what I picked was that The Process is a key component of policy processes and comes timely in improving and assessing performance of programs, projects, institutions and policies.
The first day of the 8-day training proved to me that I was in the right place. It was held at the Boardroom, on Ganges Street, Maitama, Abuja, and in participation were 9 colleagues in the development space from the British Council’s Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme and PACT Nigeria. The training started by introducing The Process and accentuating its very importance in the implementation of projects. ‘The essence of M&E is to achieve results in programs implementation and for measuring the extent and impacts of open government, open governance etc. in project implementation,’ said Oludotun Babayemi, one of the facilitators. So, The Process is for enhancing topical and future management of outputs, outcomes and impact of a program. The monitoring component of The Process helps in tracking the program activities so as to adjust deficiencies, while the evaluation component helps to assess the program’s performance after 2 – 5 years of its implementation.
From these were further lectures on the 12 components of an M&E system. According to Oludotun, ‘this is the engine of The process.’ The components encompasses organizational structure for M&E system, human capacity building of M&E staffers, carrying all relevant stakeholder partnerships necessary, communicating processes and performance of the program to relevant stakeholders, M&E plan, costed work plan, routine monitoring to improve performance, periodic surveys, data auditing, database system, evaluation and research, and using information to improve results.
What caught my attention was the configuration of an M&E plan which has the logical framework, data source matrix, budget, information product matrix, information dissemination matrix, managing partnerships between stakeholders and when the M&E system and plan will be reviewed. The logical framework, which remains one of the most important component of the M&E plan and process interested me the most, as it contains the result chain [inputs, activities, outputs (routine monitoring), outcomes and impact (evaluation)]. All of the result chain elements have indicators for measuring them. These indicators have baseline (situation before program implementation accessed during baseline assessment) and targets (quantifiable goals of the different components of the result chain – what the program intends to achieve at each stage).
The evaluation component of The Process was unpacked highlighting the core focus of such, such as efficiency, effectiveness, relevance, sustainability and impact. The evaluation report is prepared through the segmentation and population of the themes and so wise the preparation of data collection tools. According to one of the facilitators, ‘Before you design an evaluation plan, you must study the program framework very intensively to understand roles and partnerships. In addition, collecting data for evaluation report should be from the implementing agency and beneficiaries, and within the themes of Evaluation.’
Data collection for periodic monitoring, surveys and evaluation are exceedingly vital in The Process as it presents the sources of data, publication dates, who does what, budget for the data collection or access and methodology of data collection etc. In addition were exposures to monitoring information system, logical framework, checklist for evaluation planning etc. From this were lectures on the data collection and analysis component of evaluation in M&E – how programs are evaluated. Google forms were used to simplify the preparation of data collection tools, electronic data collection, and it automatically gathers data and input in a database (Google Spreadsheet). The Spreadsheet was so handy for data analysis. We were also exposed to the Kobo tool box for mobile data collection. Microsoft Excel was also used for data analysis. Altogether, as someone that has been battling with using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences for elementary data analysis, the applications/software helped to demystify data analysis.
At the end of the training, I presented an M&E plan for a pseudo program. The plan was for an international nonprofit 2 year program which intends to improve literacy rate in a certain Shikira community from 25% in 2017 to 35% in 2019 through improving primary school enrollment in the community and improving teachers knowledge and teaching skills. The community, with a population of 1,000 with 60% being under 14 children has one of the poorest literacy rates in a State with poor primary school enrollment rate, inadequate number of classrooms and teaching equipment, and lack of skilled teachers. Please find the M&E plan/assignment here. The plan was supposed to make sure the results and objectives of the program were achieved.
This was a phenomenal training and wonderful exposure to M&E for me. Having stated that I started the training with no single knowledge of The Process, I am still surprised about how fast I learnt and how meaningful and interesting the training was. Perhaps, the expansive knowledge of the facilitators, their quality teaching skills and the various M&E System templates used and shared guaranteed this. This was so beautiful to me and I look forward to having the knowledge gained become relevant as I move forward career wise and academically. As someone passionate about economic development and interested in the development sector, I was really impressed. This was beautiful. This was SUPER. M&E really interests me and remains one of the best initiatives or processes in the development sector.
I think M&E training is necessary for everyone in the development space, both in public and nonprofit organizations. Organizations also have to send their staffers for such training. The dynamics of the training are expansive and cuts across the normative operations of organizations. For human capacity building, monitoring and evaluating performance and achieving results in programs and projects, as well as for enhanced organizational productivity, such training is exceedingly important.
Chambers Umezulike is a Programme Manager at Connected Development and a Development Expert. He spends most of his time writing and choreographing researches on good and economic governance. He tweets via @Prof_Umezulike.
On 23 February 2017, the Director-General (DG) of the Budget Office of the Federation choreographed a media briefing on several issues surrounding the 2017 Budget Proposal. The DG also used the briefing to make certain clarifications on public outcries over several budget items on the proposal. Most of these outcries were on many frivolous items (especially on electricity and utility bills of MDAs; several humongous expenses on the state house budget on utensils and feeding, electricity bills, travel expenses etc.); repetitions of budget items; budget cycle crisis; the budget preparation expenses; lack of details on some of the items; budget padding etc.
In attendance at the briefing were the media and Civil Society Organizations (CSO). In responding to some of these concerns, the DG took his time to counter some of the claims:
1). He stated that there was no sort of budget padding on the 2017 budget proposal.
2). That there were no frivolous items. That most of the extensive increments such as state house proposed expenditure on utensils and utility bills; electricity bills, security and cleaning services payments in MDAs etc. were either as a result of arrears of such bills/expenses or because funds were not later provided for them on the 2016 budget (meaning they were not implemented.)
3). He stated that there were no repetitions on the proposal, unless the repetitions being referred to were budget items on the 2016 one that re-reflected on the 2017 proposal, which was as a result of the fact that funds were not provided for such items on the former.
4). He reassured the audience of his liaison with the National Assembly to ensure that budget cycle would be from January – December of every year, which was clearly stated on the constitution, as against the culture of having a previous budget being implemented in another fiscal year.
5). He also explained that the details-deficit on some of the budget items were as a result of the perspective to keep the budget simple, for public consumption. That however that his agency would ensure further details on budget items when preparing subsequent budgets.
Representing Connected Development (CODE) at the event, I further engaged the DG and raised concerns over the NGN305/$ calculation on the budget proposal (while $1 is valued at NGN 520 at the contemporaneous market); if there are extensive plans for enhanced transparency and accountability in the 2017 budget implementation; our expectancy to lay hands on the 3rd and 4th quarters’ reports of 2016 budget implementation; his plans to ensure that revenue realization deficit would not frustrate the 2017 budget implementation drawing on the country’s experience with the 2016 one; and getting access to an extensive version of the budget that had further details on some of the line items. For the latter, I mentioned the ‘Talking Sanitation’, as well as ‘Afforestation’ and ‘Tree Planting’ budget items on the proposal, under the Ministry of Environment, which all lacked details such as where and how. Lack of such specific details has frustrated the works of CSOs that are into governmental capital expenditure tracking.
In addressing my concerns, the DG made commitments that were all in line with Nigeria’s commitments on the Open Government Partnership. He stated that the 3rd quarter 2016 budget implementation report would soon be in public domain while the 4th quarter’s would soon be out too. He further stated that there would be increased transparency, accountability and citizen engagement in the 2017 budget implementation. On this, he cited plans to have a digital platform for 24/7 citizen engagement on the budget. He also mentioned that there would be a breakdown on project basis subsequently when funds are released to MDAs. In addition, he promised a quarterly media briefing on the 2017 budget implementation. These were all good news and great outcomes for nonprofits that are into Open Governance advocacy. He mentioned categorically that the revenue realization plan on the proposal is quite realizable and that the FOREX regime crisis would not affect the budget implementation.
This media engagement is a step in the right direction as bringing all stakeholders involved and addressing public concerns on the budget proposal have boosted citizen participation in governance and also provided a platform for clarifications on several portions of the budget, as well as for stakeholders to make suggestions. It is hoped that the Director keeps to all the new commitments he made at the briefing and ensuring extensive open financial governance in the budget implementation. From our part, we are sending an FOI request for an extensive version of the budget, which he promised CODE would be provided with. And before I forget, he commented that he likes our name, ‘Follow The Money.’
Chambers Umezulike is a Program Officer at Connected Development and a Development Expert. He spends most of his time writing and choreographing researches on good and economic governance. He tweets via @Prof_Umezulike.
On the week of October 3 – 7, 2016, thousands of data and governance enthusiasts, from over 40 countries will be heading to Madrid, to discuss strategies and tools to accelerate the government – citizen engagement; and the future of open data as a tool for empowering local communities. Many call it the Olympics of open data!
It’s quite exciting to see how these movement has grown – from the open government data camp in the UK in 2010 ; the open government data camp in 2011; the Open Knowledge Festival in Helsinki in 2012; the Open Knowledge Conference in Geneva in 2013; the OKFestival in Berlin 2014; In 2015, it then became the International Open Data Conference that was held in Ottawa You might want to ask, how conversations in these conferences have impacted local communities like ours, I tell you – Connected Development [CODE] and its activities is a product of some of the conversations, and we look forward to some provoking thoughts out of the 2016 edition in Madrid.
In Madrid, we will be learning new tools, and sharing lessons learnt with colleagues from other 22 countries around the world at the Omidyar Network Governance and Citizen Engagement Forum from October 3-4 at the Impact Hub; the Journocoders event with School of Data and Open Knowledge Spain on October 4 talking data journalism at Medialab – Prado; and on October 5, we will be speaking at the Indigenous Open Data Summit and also attend the Follow The Money IODC Pre – event at RED.ES on October 6 – 7 we will be joining the conversation on Open Data, while we will be joining the panel on data + accountability on October 6
If you will want to meet with us at these events, feel free to email – firstname.lastname@example.org, and also we will be live tweeting and blogging some of the great events lined up for us, so subscribe to our blog here and on Twitter @connected_dev Hala Madrid!
For some of you that are familiar with the Lagos mainland, when you say you are going to Yaba, it means you are going shopping just by the railway. In the 19th century, Yaba was known as the host of a railway garage market where Lagosians buy “second – hand clothings”. Digitalization in the 21st century has rewritten the narrative of the town to the technology hub of Nigeria.” We now have 60 technology companies in and around Yaba, this is something fascinating for us, as it was only us and the University of Lagos. When we moved here in 2012” Bosun Tijani, the CEO of Co – Creation Hub affirmed in his opening remarks for the 2016 Social Change Summit.
Amidst several tensions in the country, on June 23, 2016 about 80 participants gathered around the popular Herbert Macaulay space of Co – Creation Hub to discuss how to attract talent, resources and creativity to address Nigeria’s most pressing social challenges. I might not be right, but it seems the event greatly focused on Media and Digital Innovations. And why not? Every conference now have that word – innovation! Whenever you are in Lagos, you must innovate to get to events early, exactly what I did, by flagging a motorbike rider, to get me to the event, all the way from Ikeja! Please don’t inform Ambode, I only wanted to avoid the painstaking Lagos traffic, and remember, I came from Abuja.
The hall was enlivened by the keynote speech of Ibukun Awosika, the Chairman First Bank Group, who to me appeal more to the female gender, as I observe closely all the female entrepreneurs, in the room, nodding to every of her lines. Maybe, I am the one that is not a female activist, but the good news was that her thoughts on rethinking a was quite electric. “When they ask you for your state of origin, erase it, and add your state of residence, likewise we should start thinking of how we have our talents come together to start up innovative solutions to our growing problems” Awosika mentioned. But is Nigeria really taken apart by the about three hundred and sixty something tribes in the country. She further said “There are three hundred and something tribes in Nigeria, so can you create three hundred and seventy something nation’s, leave out Yoruba, Igbo,Hausa, and all & become a true Nigeria, infact the things we do now cannot take us to where we are going as a Nation, we must change the status quo”.
The second keynote, which was on independent media as a catalyst for social change, was given by Stephen King and Ory Okolloh of Omidyar Network. Imagine, this is the third event in 2 weeks that I will be attending, in which the media is been referred to as the pillar of social change. Shouldn’t this be a concern for media organizations in the country? I am still watching and waiting for new innovative TV channels that can stand and surpass Channels TV. However, let it not sound like I am a TV fan, I do YouTube more than TV, and also a radio fan, especially at peak hours. “Independent media should leverage on opportunities embedded in the use of local languages, and content that citizens can easily relate with, an example is Wazobia FM and Urban FM” Ory Okolloh asserts. Truthfully, I am in love with the way Wazobia FM relates with its audience, a real game changer in the broadcast industry in Nigeria, but I am an advocate of market competition, as such we will need more of Wazobia FM’s.
Inasmuch as we welcome this burgeoning outfits, challenges in sustaining the opportunities that are available in this space remain enormous. One would not easily forget the reputable NEXT Newspaper which started in 2008 and ceased publication in September 2011 owing to advert shortage due to government influence on advertisement space in its print. Afterwards NEXT, was Premium Times, a leading online news, and investigative journalism platform, created 2011 in Nigeria.In order for investors and media practitioners to understand key constraints and opportunities that drive this media innovation,Omidyar Network and Reboot published a report on accelerating development & good governance in the new media landscape which highlighted opportunities in the independent media. You should read this if you are interested in starting or strengthening your independent media
No doubt, talents are scarce, and entrepreneurs are finding it difficult to recruit talent as reported in the Global Entrepreneurship Research 2016 Watch out for my reaction to the report in my next post.With several panel discussions during the Social Change Summit, it was resolved that entrepreneurs should not recruit based on only compensation, but should think on making talents climb the ladder as a leader, after all talent is one thing, and leadership is another. “Sometimes what you need is knowledge,and not more finance” suggests Paul Okeogo, the Chief Operating Officer at Chocolate City. Many times you need knowledge on managing a team, and growing your startup to scale, most of which you can leverage from your peers, funders and prospective funders. To become sustainable as well, you will need knowledge on monetizing your ventures by creating content that your audience can relate with. “You don’t just think you have an idea, and you can throw it to the market, you must know who are your audience by segmenting your market” advised Abiola Alabi, owner of Biola Alabi Media, and former Managing Director at M-NET Africa.
Forget it, the Lagos market is huge, and that’s why it houses 20 million Nigerians, but for some of us, that grew up in the city, it can be tiring at times, and now that we do not leave in the city anymore, it’s difficult for us to wait till conferences or summit like this finishes. Before 5pm, my motor bike man came calling “oga it’s 5 pm we should enter the road now, you know say hold up go don dey build up” when you are in Lagos you know what that means. Four days in Lagos looks like it was 1 month, but really it was worth the time!
The internet must protect human right and privacy…The internet must give people access to education and opportunities for participation, it should be a place where people can gather information and make their voices heard. This give rise to project such as the Nigerian Follow The Money initiative which was presented here yesterday. The initiative monitor whether aid money really reaches its destination. Team members go to the villages and follow up on the promises made by the politicians. They publish their findings in easy to understand diagrams on their website” – Thomas Silberhorn, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Corporation and Development, in his keynote address at the Global Media Forum
“I forget my name, I forget my dreams, maybe we do not have a lot of power because we are nothing, but sometimes a nothing man can change a lot” these mix of Words on Piano of Aeham Ahmad, 28 years old, from the streets of Yarmouk Camp in Syria who now lives in Germany keep lingering in my heart as another forum to discuss media, freedom and values kick starts in Bonn Germany. On the count, this will be the seventh global conference honouring our Follow The Money work.
In recent times, media organizations have been battling with innovating their newsrooms,as,challenges of its freedom and values has always resonated around newsrooms Ever since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948 at the Palais de Chaillot, Paris. Much reason why the Annual Global Media Forum in Bonn, Germany held between June 13 – 15 had its theme around this challenges and opportunities, and welcoming 2,000 participants including media CEOs, journalists, academics, artistsentrepreneurs from 110 countries
“We need to rethink the way in which we perceive, demonstrate and spread our values.” With those words, DW Director General Peter Limbourg opened the Global Media Forum in Bonn on Monday, June 13, 2016. Looking at the long list of exceptional speakers for the event, it asserts to me that we are living in the midst of communications revolution that is already having significant effects on democracy, and as such, it will be pertinent to instill our values as journalists, or “content creators” to research with due diligence, copy after checking the facts, stop scandalizing every harmless occurrence, and make reference to sources of credible information.
Pocket FM Radio was on the side stands. Visit them at http://www.pocket-fm.com/
Our values are greatly important especially as enemies of freedom of speech increases across borders. From Turkey clamping down on newsrooms who are highlighting to the world,the human right abuses of the regime; to Nigeria, where a legislature is sponsoring a bill that infringes on the freedom of speech; to Maldive government arresting journalists. This is becoming a challenge to democracy as the “fourth pillar of democracy” is becoming threatened.
Suffice to say that the forum was a congregation of media enthusiast living everyday with the believe that the media (be it the new or the traditional) would continue to serve as a watchdog for democracies, even as press freedom declined to its lowest point in 12 years, and 13 percent of the world’s population enjoys a free press, according to the Freedom House 2016 report
Most of the thoughts from speakers ranges from how media organizations can start innovating their newsrooms; privacy and security, violence against women and children, the US presidential elections, migration issues in Europe, and the relationship between media and policy makers.
Actually, I was thrilled when participants asked what the relationship of Follow The Money was, with the government of Nigeria during the panel on digital innovations coordinated by the DW Akademie. “Always flat and parallel” I have answered, as only few state agents will embrace a watchdog initiative, that demeans the bureaucracy within government institutions. Maybe that might changed in the near future, I will sure be excited!
The Panel on Standing up for Human Rights: Digital Innovations source:DW
It was not only three days of discussions, I like the fact that every closing of the day is met with social gatherings long enough for networking, meeting old friends, and chatting new courses, as well.This time around, I enjoyed the food because special considerations were given to we chicken and meat eaters,still not yet a veggie, not sure I will be one. Talking about closing, Christiana Figueres. The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) speech on ‘the role of the media’ was truly exceptional as it shaken the power of the pens that break news event “You should not just inform people on and about events, you as journalist, or content producers, should use your privilege to use news to connect the dots, to point out to the public the ramifications, and implications of the news event” Figueres said
Certainly, the freedom we all enjoy as information users are threatened, every day, as the connection with the world gets smaller and thinner, and digital technologies open our doors, to every form of air – with 6 in 7 people leaving in countries where they cannot express information, and ideas freely. Nevertheless, the lens and pens’ attitude to become impartial and objective will remain pertinent, and the words from Bonn will linger – sometimes a nothing man can change a lot, one time the peace will come if we can connect the dots!
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What makes Potsdam thick? The breathtaking castles; what about Ottawa? It’s War Museum and the Rideau Canal; and what about Ibiuna? Does it even sound familiar? So this year the School of Data annual summer camp moves to Ibiuna in Sao Paulo, Brazil. With a population of 76,432, the School of Data will be adding 36 amazing participants from 24 countries in 5 continents to this small municipality. For me, it was a pleasure to be attending the 3rd summer camp in a row. Yippie! and what about this summer camp, hosted by the amazing guys at Escola de dados – lets ride!
The opening sessions on day one was grand with Dirk Slater introducing participants to what to expect in the next 5 days, followed by a breakout interaction where participants get to share why they are interested in this data work or data movement. One fascinating A-ha moment for me in my group was meeting Mariano, a tall, middle aged lawyer from Greece. “I don’t believe in working without been paid, we should find how to create business models that can pay for the good works we do. And just to let you know money motivates me” – He further said. Meeting the likes of Natalia, a Lawyer, teacher and now turned data journalist; Kabu, a new fellow from Zambia who is interested in health data because she feels the relevant datasets are not available in Zambia; Jennifer from South Africa, with a background in commercial ,now in interested in tech for social change, and working with Code for South Africa inspires her many times to continue doing the kind of work with do.
Participants at the Opening Circle
The “spectrogram” a facilitation type which breaks participants into groups to figure out controversial statements relevant to the data movements’ and afterward participants will have to move to a side that agrees, disagrees or in between followed, and this got participants thinking with statement ranging from if public interest should override personal privacy; collecting data about ethnicity; open society is better than equal society; data journalism takes too long to be effective; and if we can make open data without computer. These are all great thoughts as we enhance data literacy, but what are your thoughts around these questions? Feel free to add your comments at the end of this post.
Of course the summer camp can’t be more energized without the 15 minutes breaks – so much a time for you to quickly ping your loved ones, have a CAMEL cigarette ;), roll down the cliff, feed on some biscuits, and also have some coffee. “Hey guys, it’s nice to see the sun rising” exclaimed Dirk. Yes, at this time of the year, the mornings were always cold, and no thanks to the heavy storm a night before day 1 which did not allow participants like me have early morning hot bath. However, I was thrilled when Marco said a call was put through to their power holding company at 3.30 am and they came to the neighborhood 1 hr 30 minutes later to fix the electric poles that were affected by the lighting during the rain. Fantastic, right! Especially if you come from my part of the world. Oh I might be wrong, so if you know of any government servicing company in Nigeria that responds to emergencies like this swiftly, please give some thumbs up to them in the comments box below, we’ll be glad you did!
Participants at the Governance track setting up indicators for data trainings
But can you crowdsource the Agenda for an event? That was exactly what we did after the break on day 1, with sticky notes flying around the wall on what participants would love to learn or achieve before they leave the event. Why not? There must be a reason for you travelling far down to Sao Paulo, and you must let the organizers know. The Agenda were grouped into skillshare, communications, membership, Opportunities for Collaboration, and talking about the later the next session was dedicated to knowing what School of Data is in a “standing fair mode”, another instance of speed dating where you get to know how members got started with School of Data, what the role of Open Knowledge International, and the steering committee is, and what members do. It was memorable listening to Sanders narrative on how Open Knowledge started School of Data, and its exit strategy; very captivating listening to Natalia as she patiently defined the 5 members of the steering committee while engagements with Bardhyl (Bar – deal if you need some beers ;)) of Metarmophosis in Macedonia, and Sylvia in OK France was simply amazing.
So afterwards, was the 2 hours break which was followed by the governance track and the fellowship track. So every summer camp has a list of fellows who are embedded in their countries with different organizations to work on projects with CSOs, and journalists to achieve specific goals. The fellowship track allows fellows (this time we have 10 of them) to meet their partners, work on their deliverable, and help them curate activities they will be carrying out for the entire six month.
The Fellows track where new fellows set up a road map for their activities
Just like you may know, talking about governance could be a tasking and unending issue among non profits, especially when the movement is a network or coalition. I remembered in Potsdam, where the governance talk started, it went into the nights and the conversation was heated up. One good thing that has happened was that the network has moved on from where it was back in 2014 to fixing its governance right, especially with an effective framework, which was consolidated on, at this summer camp. Talks at the governance session included fundraising, membership, fellowship, member support, and of course relationship with Open Knowledge International. In all, one thing remains clear that the School of Data is a small and young organization which would want to grow in a less chaotic way.
It is noteworthy that the School of Data accepts members, however the requirements you will need to look at includes you or your organization being able to establish a relationship of trust with school of data coordinators; send a plan to the steering committee, and if approved, expect to sign an MOU with the school of data. With the present 12 members, perhaps the School of Data might move into another learning year, with conversations that will shape its future for the coming year.
The closing circle at the Summer Camp
One week, so many sticky notes, wobbly internet (no thanks to the heavy rain), great food (No thanks to the hardworking caterers),29 skill shares: The data literacy track which started on day 2 had different skills shared by participants for one hour;and maybe no need to swim in the Itupararanga lake, as the rains were always in to the rescue. As we look forward to the next summer camp, some good memories will linger, like the energetic turkish – Pina; Guatemalan Danny the Elvis; Dirk for his opening and closing circles, and all the sharpies and sticky notes that will forever live in our memories. DATASCHULE!!!
There is a Wiki at http://wiki.okfn.org/Summer_Camp_2016 where you can get more information about the 2016 summer camp.