Youth from the Arab Region Visualize the Impact of COVID-19 on their lives

08 Jan 2021
  • Youth from the Arab Region Visualize the Impact of COVID-19 on their lives

Visualize 2030 data camp in its fourth edition has just come to an endearing end. Similarly to every year, the Arab Development Portal (ADP) called upon youth in the Arab region to participate in an immersive learning experience to develop a data-driven story visualization within the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


This year, ADP was able to break the distance and overcome the overarching challenges accompanying the spread of COVID-19 pandemic by virtually hosting the annual Visualize 2030 camp with the support of international and regional partner organizations and institutions such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Food Programme (WFP), the Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ).


The fourth edition of Visualize 2030 brought together 100 participants from 13 Arab countries[1] in one virtual setting to reflect on the impact of COVID-19 on their lives as youth from the Arab region. Visualizers took part in a five-week training and socialization scheme with 28 trainers and 12 lecturers to introduce them to one another and guide them through data conceptualization and visualization and the execution of their audio-visual products.


Nonetheless, this virtual set-up was not exempt from technical hindrances. The digital divide compromised the experience of many participants who reported that the frequent electric power outages, poor internet connection, and costliness of stable internet connection made it challenging for them to attend the training sessions consistently. Despite these deterrents, the participants were very excited about cultivating their data skills and even more so about contributing to enriching the digital content in the Arab world. They divided themselves into 35 teams and tackled the impact of COVID-19 on different aspects of their lives, namely labor, education, health, economy, environment, domestic violence, gender-based violence, food security, and displacement.


Visualize 2030 Virtual Edition: Conceptualization, Execution, Dissemination:


The training camp started off on November 16th with the conceptualization phase which went on for three weeks. The first week was dedicated to data preparation during which participants were well-trained on data sources, cleaning and analysis. At the end of this week, participants finalized their datasets. On the second week, participants’ ideas were translated into detailed and clear data-driven storylines. During the following week, the training was geared towards accustoming participants with data visualization techniques and tools. Participants transformed their datasets into appealing visuals to be included in the final output. On the fourth week, the 35 teams worked on and submitted high-quality data-driven visual outputs. Lastly, participants widely disseminated their products through social media platforms on the fifth and final week.


The 2020 Visualize 2030 winners


The visualizers were trained on telling meaningful stories deduced from raw datasets, and they did so excellently. Exceptionally this year, and due to the outstanding talents of the participants who delivered top-quality audio-visual products, four winners were nominated at the end of the camp instead of three.


The first prize went to Qatrah Team. The Yemeni team consisting of Abdallah Al Tholaya (24), Bassam Al Tholaya (21), and Majed Mohammad (21) produced a short video addressing water insecurity and the lack of access to clean water in Yemen. They narrated the story of Majed, a Yemeni man that lives in a village far from the capital Sanaa. Majed walks great distances daily to secure water for his family and this situation was further aggravated when water distribution was constricted under the Covid-19 pandemic. Abdalla commends Visualize 2030 and says that it is a “global platform that gives space to Arab content creators and youth to raise development issues that relate to them.”


The second prize went to Timeline Team. Khadija Alomqi (28) and Hussam Mekhlafi (27) narrate their story as a displaced Yemeni couple under the character names “Sara” and “Sami”. Sara and Sami fled from conflict in their home country in pursuit of better opportunities, but their plan was soon compromised by the spread of Covid-19 pandemic. Timeline tackled the economic effect of the spread of the pandemic in their audio-visual product, particularly on unemployment, and poverty, as well as the effect of conflict in Yemen on displacement. Speaking from personal struggle, Khadija and Hussam end on wishful note that the global health situation resolves soon and progress towards SDGs bolster again. 


The third prize went to Gleam Team. The team consisting of Nabih Damoury (27), Karim El-Amine (25), and Mohammad Alameddine (25) recounted the experiences as Lebanese youth who have lived through an economic crisis and its exacerbation due to the spread of the pandemic. Their video production focused on the disrupting effect of Covid-19 on the collapsing Lebanese economy, more specifically on the tourism sector, poverty, unemployment and inflation rates.


The fourth prize went to United Team. Hanouf Nawaf (25), Bushra Al Aidarous (24), and Rana AlThakafi (27) narrated their story as Saudi and Yemeni youth and how their lives have been affected by Covid-19. United dedicated their audio-visual product to the destigmatization of mental health by employing data from 2019 Saudi National Mental Health Survey to address depression among Saudi youth under Covid-19.


The multidisciplinary evaluation committee assessed the final outputs of the teams, the progress of their work over the course of the training camp, as well as their dissemination efforts and the achieved reach of their data-driven products. Winners were announced Monday, December 21 in an online celebratory closing ceremony. 


Ceremony Day


The ceremony was kicked off by Sarah Poole who set Visualize 2030 as a concrete example of how UNDP fosters a data-driven culture that empowers everyone to work with data. She congratulated the participants on their steady dedication to developing their data skills to give a voice to those who do not have access to digital platforms.


Farah Choucair, Project Manager at ADP, followed up with words of gratitude to visualizers on their efforts to break the distance and overcome digital hindrances.


Partners from WFP, UNESCO, WHO EMRO, UNEP, and ARIJ Network represented by Maria Tvestkova, Jana Elbaba, Ruth Mabry, Abdelmenaam Mohamed and Rawan Damen also shared similar sentiments and emphasized on the importance of engaging youth in discussions around development issues to push forward on the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.


Haya Hassouneh then shared a word on behalf of the trainers who accompanied the participants throughout the five-week training camp commending their commitment and stellar audio-visual outcomes.


This was followed with a word on behalf of the participants delivered by Yusser Qazwini who expressed deep appreciation to Visualize 2030 as an opportunity for youth to engage in public dialogue on SDGs as well as reinforce a sense of responsibility towards impacting change.


Finally, Layal Wehbe, Project Coordinator at ADP, took the attendees on a virtual tour of the camp and its different phases, discussed the dissemination analytics, and announced the winners of Visualize 2030 in its fourth edition.


Following the celebratory news, winning teams shared a few words on their overall feedback of the data camp concluding the final ceremony. 


[1] Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen

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