In a world progressively driven by data and digital transformations, the importance of data literacy cannot be overstated. Recognizing this, a groundbreaking initiative took shape in Trinidad, Tobago and the Philippines, where a comprehensive workshop on Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation, and Reporting (PMER) was synergistically combined with a robust data literacy component. The aim? To equip technical staff of the IFRC Port of Spain Country Cluster Delegation, Trinidad, Tobago, and Philippine Red Cross Society with the knowledge and skills to navigate the intricacies of data, fostering a deeper understanding of its implications for project monitoring and evaluation.

Supporting Teams Through Integrated Learning
The fusion of PMER and data literacy training was strategically designed to cultivate a holistic understanding of data-driven project management. The workshop’s core objective was to introduce results-based monitoring and evaluation to technical staff who engage with programs and operations. Spearheaded by the International Federation of the Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), this initiative aimed to enhance the staff’s capacity to utilize tools which make the processes of project design, planning, and results reporting more efficient.

At the heart of this transformative initiative was Melissa el Hamouch, the data literacy lead at 510, the data and digital initiative of the Netherlands Red Cross. In 2023, two pivotal workshops were organized, one by the Philippine Red Cross PMER team and the other by the IFRC Port of Spain Country Cluster Delegation PMER team. Both teams recognized the importance of data literacy in bolstering their efforts and sought Melissa’s expertise to incorporate interactive data literacy exercises into their workshops.

An Interactive Journey into Data
The workshops were far from traditional lectures. Instead, they embraced an interactive approach which captivated participants’ attention and fostered profound learning experiences. The sessions were enriched with engaging content, including quizzes, prizes, problem-solving activities, and even craft-based exercises. These immersive activities were designed to break down complex data concepts and make them accessible to all participants. Many of the exercises used throughout the workshop were drawn from the IFRC Data Playbook, a document containing 120 games, scenarios, slides and checklists to assist National Societies on their data journey through activities across the data lifecycle in short sessions.

“The IFRC Data Playbook definitely guided us on how to teach Data Literacy and Data Management, especially in an interactive way where it is easy for participants to understand the lesson. It is very helpful to immediately teach about Data because there are different tools and materials that a national society could use.”


One particularly innovative exercise from the Data Playbook was “What Data Is in a Piece of Fruit.” This exercise utilized a seemingly simple object, such as an apple for example, to explore the diverse dimensions of data. Participants were prompted to consider data’s contextual nature and its potential to transform decision-making processes by listing the different data the fruit contains or represents, from nutritional value to flavor, place grown or price. The exercise was then expanded by showcasing how the data will often depend on the intentions behind interacting with the piece of fruit, as different data are relevant to different data consumers. Through this exercise, participants grasped the vital connection between data and informed choices.

“Data plays a significant role in helping us make informed decisions and consequently lead to improved processes and systems in the organization.” 


Engaging Challenges and Collaborative Learning
The data protection session employed a dynamic approach to address the complex topic of data responsibility. The “wheel of data misfortune” exercise sparked conversations around challenges and considerations related to data protection. The wheel contained categories of things that could go wrong in the realm of data, such as “laptop stolen” or “survey fatigue”. Participants were then asked to spin the wheel and share their story related to the category the wheel landed on. This exercise encouraged participants to share real-world experiences and concerns, fostering a shared learning space to exchange best practices.

Key Takeaways for Data-Driven Success
The workshops yielded several key takeaways that underscored the importance of data literacy in effective project management:

  1. Purposeful Data Collection: Not all data is created equal. It is crucial to identify the specific data needed to address project goals, target audiences, and desired outcomes.
  2. Strategic Data Collection: Data collection must be strategic and realistic, focusing on relevant information to drive meaningful insights.
  3. Linking Data to Questions: Aligning data with the right questions lays the foundation for setting up indicators in monitoring and evaluation plans.
  4. Collective Decision-Making: Making data-driven decisions is a collaborative effort that requires identifying pertinent questions and involving the entire team.
  5. Data Responsibility and Protection: Data security and ethical usage are paramount. Understanding data protection principles and applying them contextually is essential.

Expanding the Horizon: Scoping Future Endeavors
The success of these workshops has opened the door to a wider horizon of possibilities. The cross-sector relevance of data literacy is evident, as it finds application across various teams and units.

As the journey continues, the focus remains on scoping data literacy needs among National Societies. Whether through remote training of trainers or in-person workshops, the commitment to supporting staff with boosting their data literacy skills remains unwavering. This collaborative effort, driven by the IFRC and partners like 510’s very own Melissa el Hamouch, reflects a determined stride toward harnessing the transformative power of data for a brighter, more informed future.

In the ever-evolving landscape of project management and data utilization, the workshops in the Philippines, Trinidad and Tobago are a testament to the potential of integrated learning. As humanitarian organizations around the world strive for impactful outcomes of their work, embracing data literacy within the realm of PMER is not just a choice—it is a necessity.

Reach out to us!

Please read more about our products and services here or reach out to us with any questions:

Data Literacy trainings: Melissa el Hamouch