Case Study

The Tobacco Control Data Initiative

The Tobacco Control Data Initiative (TCDI) was launched in 2019 and is implemented by Development Gateway: An IREX Venture, in partnership with the University of Cape Town’s Research Unit on the Economics of Excisable Products and funded by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. TCDI aims to supply governments, civil society, and academia with improved access to country-specific data that will inform better tobacco control policy design and implementation. The program has built national websites that present data from different sources, including primary data collected through TCDI and existing secondary data made publicly available and papers published in peer-reviewed journals.

2019 - Present Health

Tobacco use continues to harm individuals and communities. More than seven million people will die each year from direct tobacco use and another 1.2 million non-smokers will die due to exposure to secondhand smoke.

Despite public awareness efforts and the adoption of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control by more than 179 countries, tobacco usage is on the rise in low- and middle-income countries, including within southern, western, and eastern Africa. Unless serious tobacco control initiatives are passed and successfully implemented, tobacco use could double in the African continent within a decade.

Unfortunately, there is no single resource to access the comprehensive tobacco data that governments need to make policy decisions. TCDI is working to fill this gap in a number of countries, creating websites for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zambia that integrate both primary and secondary research to present comprehensive data on tobacco use.

Getting Timely, Relevant, and Trusted Data to Policymakers

In partnership with the University of Cape Town’s Research Unit on the Economics of Excisable Products (REEP) and with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this 3.5-year program works to address barriers to data use in tobacco control by consolidating available and trusted tobacco control data, identifying and filling data gaps, and creating an online resource for comprehensive tobacco-related data and information.

After initial desk research, TCDI completed country assessments in our target countries interviewing more than 100 stakeholders on tobacco use and control data needs. After each assessment, TCDI synthesized findings, identified key data gaps, shared the findings with key stakeholders, and conducted workshops in each country to validate the findings and agree on which primary data gaps the team would prioritize.

The TCDI websites for DRC, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zambia have been publicly launched. TCDI has also conducted additional primary research to fill data gaps identified early in the process, including research on shisha in Nigeria and e-cigarette research in South Africa.

Going forward, the team will continue to incorporate new features and new research into the country websites. Beginning in November 2023, the TCDI program will transition the maintenance and updating of the TCDI sites to a long-term sustainability partner, while DG continues to administer the back-end. This arrangement will ensure continuity and updated information for the sites and continue through at least November 2027.

TCDI South Africa Dashboard

TCDI Nigeria Dashboard

TCDI Zambia Dashboard

TCDI Ethiopia Dashboard

TCDI Kenya Dashboard

TCDI DRC Dashboard


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