Launching our new training course: Why Data Rights Matter

James Eaton-Lee ICT4D

This month we’ve released our “Why Data Rights Matter” training course. 

We believe the course will make substantial impact to uphold commitments to make safe, rights-based use of data, and that it is a bridge to further collaboration in this area. 


Oxfam was proud to be an early participant in the Responsible Data movement, publishing our Responsible Program Data Policy in 2015. In it, we outlined a commitment to treating people with respect and upholding their rights when we work with them. Since then, we have been working throughout our 67 countries and 20 affiliate organisations to put this policy into practice. 

In 2021, these commitments are no less important. Since 2015, GDPR passed into European Law, and many other countries have passed data protection legislation. This has produced a growing constellation of contextual frameworks and visions for safety and dignity in working with data while upholding rights. 

In 2020, we launched our 2020-2030 Global Strategic Framework (GSF). Unsurprisingly, the framework reflects, the heavy role of data in our work and lives, and the role our partners play.  

Data and Oxfam’s Strategy 

Our strategy recognises that power and injustice are increasingly mediated through the use of data. Fair digital systems, responsible use of data, and respect for privacy are not optional parts of a fair, equitable, dignified world.  

Oxfam’s ability to use data responsibly alongside our partners is a critical component of our commitment to bringing about this world. This must be done through safe programming, by upholding our commitments to ‘do no harm’ and enabling a strategy which will see more safe use of data-heavy programming such as Cash and Voucher Assistance, with our partners. 

Our Data Rights Programme 

For those of us who have been considering topics like Data Protection and Responsible Data for some time, themes of digital and cash in partnerships – and accompanying challenges – are not new. Within Oxfam, they have informed our approach to putting policy into practice for some time. 

It is for these reasons that in 2019, we began a programme we called “Data Rights”. This programme attempted to refresh and solidify our internal approach to the use of safe, respectful data in our work, through a contextual, translational model that would work wherever you were.  

Our Data Rights eLearning Course 

We knew one of our foundational tools needed to be based on reflection and learning. We finished building an eLearning course with Kashida in late 2020 designed to provide foundational learning for all of our staff who work with data.  

Its graduates should understand the impact when practice goes wrong, intuit a repeatable framework for considering how to use data well, and know where to go to get more support. 

Within Oxfam, we roll it out alongside a co-branded intranet site aligning other tools and guidance with the ‘responsible data lifecycle’ outlined in the course. Ultimately, we hope to release most of this material too. 

In our internal programme, this is further reinforced by support channels, a focal point network, and community spaces on our internal collaboration platform.  

Sharing it with you 

We are proud this month be able to make this course publicly available for our peers and partners. This month, “Why Data Rights Matter” is available via the Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP)’s kaya platform for you to use. You can take the course, and share it, right now. 

It builds on and reinforces our existing Responsible Data Management training pack – an offline, instructor-led tool – as a complementing online tool. 

The course is aimed at a broad audience of ‘data-using’ humanitarian and development staff, assumes only moderate awareness of IT and data as a pre-requisite, and is available in ArabicEnglishFrench, and Spanish.  

It is designed to take no longer than 20-40 minutes, depending upon level of engagement and language skills. We have made some tweaks to make it more relevant outside Oxfam, but it still has the same content, and where possible links to the same tools and guidance. 

What’s next? 

Firstly, for you as an individual – and anyone you share it with – we hope our course elevates and deepens your learning and understanding.  

Secondly, we hope it gives your organisation another tool to build better, stronger, safer; if you don’t already have ‘onboarding’ training for staff on safe data – we hope this gives you more choices. 

Thirdly, we hope it prompts you to join us in reaffirming commitments to data rights – and that we can learn from you.  

We welcome in particular more discussion, more collaboration through communities like the Responsible Data, and more sharing. If you would like to use our course, build its replacement, or work on more common privacy and digital challenges, we cannot wait to hear from you! 


James Eaton-Lee