Mapping the Coronavirus Pandemic in Africa

Country/area: Kenya

Organisation: The Elephant

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 16 Mar 2020

Credit: Alan Kawamara, Juliet Atellah, Salma Mwangola

Project description:

This project was designed to track the impact of Coronavirus across the African continent. At the onset of the pandemic, we realised it was very difficult to get accurate information about how the virus was spreading within Africa. This tool was created to tell that story, with daily updates of confirmed cases, deaths, recoveries and number of tests carried out in 54 African countries. Overall numbers, a map of Africa visualising confirmed cases in each country, an interactive bar chart race showing how confirmed cases in each co The project also includes a link to The Elephant’s edition on the

Impact reached:

Over the past year, the project has been viewed over 150,000 times from 135 countries around the world. The audience that engaged with this tracker used it mostly to compare the status of the pandemic in different African countries as well as research.

Techniques/technologies used:

To create our tracker, we collected daily coronavirus numbers from government portals, social media accounts as well as WorldOMeters and the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center databases. This data was verified, scraped using Python and converted into Google Spreadsheets. For the Africa map, we made use of Data Wrapper, charts were created using Flourish and the interactive dashboard showing country data created using Tableau Public.

What was the hardest part of this project?

On the onset of the pandemic, there was a lot of misinformation on social media about confirmed cases and deaths being reported across the country. Our biggest challenge was verifying these reports using multiple data sources including official social media handles of African governments and health officials and local media. Given we were publishing daily statistics, having to verify data from 54 countries within 24hrs was very difficult. However, open data projects like WorldOMeters and the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center helped a lot.

What can others learn from this project?

There are several visualisation tools like DataWrapper and Flourish, freely available to journalists to enable them to create multimedia-rich content and enhance storytelling – use them! 

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