Open Data to support research on the economics of NCDs in Africa

The nutrition transition towards unhealthy and unsustainable patterns of food production and consumption in sub-Saharan Africa has resulted in micro and macronutrient deficiencies and the contrasting, but concurrent, rise in overweight and obesity. Declining levels of physical activity and increasing consumption of unhealthy food, alcohol, and tobacco further contribute to rising rates of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the region. Research aimed at understanding the role of interventions to prevent NCDs in sub-Saharan Africa is scant, partly because of the perceived unavailability of reliable data. Data already exist, but they are often not easily accessible, nor in research-ready formats.

This project, implemented by the University of Cape Town in South Africa, will build on the previous Data on Alcohol and Tobacco in Africa (DATA) project, which has been successful in providing new open access to data to enable research on the economics of tobacco and alcohol control in five sub-Saharan African countries. Newly titled, the Data on Aliments, Tobacco and Alcohol (DATA) in Africa project will expand the tested model to include five additional countries, and it will widen its scope to include a central focus on diet and food-related chronic disease data.

Among the activities are the development of data access agreements and protocols with data producers in these countries, the collection and publication of food environment data from the five original countries, and the publication of food environments, alcohol, and tobacco data from the new countries. This data and its platform will be promoted to data producers and users, and the project will also evaluate the scale-up and utility of the DATA platform. The project will increase access to research-ready data that will enable researchers to provide the local evidence decision-makers need to develop the most suitable policies and interventions to prevent diseases related to diet, alcohol, and tobacco in their countries and in the region.

Project ID


Project status



24 months

IDRC Officer

Natacha Lecours

Total funding

CA$ 282,200


South of Sahara


Food, Environment, and Health

Project Leader

Hana Ross


University of Cape Town

Institution Country

South Africa

Institution Website