For those who haven’t seen it Wazimap is a cool easy to use interactive tool for journalists (and anyone else who is interested in data really) to help them add some data, facts and figures to their stories.  It is a tool that can give context, present complex data in simple and clear ways to help audiences understand. It is also so much more, Wazimap can help understand how media cover elections, look for correlations, for anomalies and inequalities. It can flesh out a story, can be the basis for one or it can point out a gap.
Sound too good to be true?  How about this for an example:  Nkandla as a scandal a political hot potato and elections issue has been covered extensively from many angles.  Wazimap offers a fresh angle.  How Nkandla contributes to entrenching inequality in South Africa.
For Nkandla, irrespective of the allegations, we know close to 250 million Rand has been spent on one homestead.  Here’s what Wazimap tells us about Nkandla:
We see that: the average age in the area is 18.  That 49% of the people living there are children.

We see that over two thirds of the people live in traditional dwellings.  That only 22% of people live in formal houses.

We see that the average annual household income is around R14 600, this is about half the amount for kzn and South Africa, which serves to highlight how under resourced the area is.

Perhaps most telling of all are the figures for service delivery, where we see that access to water is around 39% and electricity, is well below the national average where 55% of the population have no access to any form of electricity.  The majority of people only have a pit toilet and 13% have no toilet at all.  Refuse removal is all but non existent.

In this place we have a veritable palace amongst the poor.  It makes the expenditure even more extreme.  The “fire pool” in a place where the majority, nearly also mostly children have no access to water, make the contrast all the more perverse.
This is not to suggest for a moment that the president should not have safe secure environment with running water and electricity but Wazimap shows just how extreme the expenditure really is and raises the question, from an evidence base, of how can such massive expenditure of resources be justified in an area where the majority has so little?  It is one thing to be shocked and appalled by the extreme wealth of those in Bryanston for example where we see the average annual household income is R461 000 and that almost everyone living there has access to water, electricity and refuse removal. (Click here) Consider that just a few kilometers away in Ward 109 (Click here) the average annual household income drops to R29 400 and while most have running water, electricity and decent sanitation drops to well below 80%. These are precisely the kinds of inequality our government is fighting to eliminate – except it would appear in the case of Nkandla.
What we also know is that this is just the start for Wazimap. Over the next few months we will be adding more data and enabling more comparisons.  SO go play with Wazimap now: start by entering where you live and see what you didn’t know.