Friday, 13 September 2013

How to engineer a “data revolution”? The OECD’s view on post-2015 goals monitoring

This post, written by the OECD’s Charlotte Demuijnck, provides an overview of the OECD’s input on target measurements in the post-2015 development framework and agenda. The OECD paper Strengthening National Statistical Systems to Monitor Global Goals on post-2015 goals monitoring is the fifth thematic paper in series which outlines the Organisation’s position on the global debate in the lead up to the UN 68th General Assembly which begins on Tuesday, 17 September 2013. This post is part of the Wikiprogress Post-2015 series.

The paper is the fifth in a series of OECD’s contributions to the post-2015 agenda. It proposes steps needed for efficient tracking of the post-2015 development goals. Despite the positive impact the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) process has had on the production and availability of data, as well as on the development of national statistical capacity, the paper highlights the need to agree on a better statistical strategy to overcome the remaining challenges for post-2015 monitoring.

As emphasised in the paper, the MDG process has significantly helped at improving national statistical capacities. Countries have risen to the challenge of delivering high quality, internationally comparable data, mainly using household surveys. As the paper states: “the average number of surveys produced each year in Ethiopia and Ghana almost doubled since 2000”. In addition to domestic funds, development co-operation was a significant driving force in this improvement. Ghana, for example, relies entirely on external support for data production.

However, some issues remain for proper tracking of the post-2015 agenda such as gaps in the data collection and analysis, as well as the exclusion and under-utilisation of national data in the MDG monitoring process. Apart from household surveys, other sources of MDG monitoring have not been sufficiently developed.As a matter of fact, only 6% of Sub-Saharan countries have complete civil registration systems and about 250 million people are missing from existing surveys. According to the authors, inadequate and under-investment in assistance for data production explains the gaps in MDG data. Another issue is that of the exclusion of national data from the global monitoring exercise leading to huge discrepancies between UN-reported data and national estimates. This has become more problematic as Murray*, among others, has questioned the validity of UN estimates and methodologies. The paper explains that the under-use of national data is due to non-compliance with international standards and poor co-ordination. To solve this issue, “better alignment of national and international efforts to strengthen statistical capacity” is recommended. In this regard, prior consultation and nationally-defined indicators should drive the post-2015 monitoring process.

 A quote from the PARIS21 webpage
Acknowledging the call for a “data revolution” by the High Level panel (HLP) of Eminent Persons onthe post-2015 development goals, the paper emphasises the OECD’s expertise and experience in creating a global statistical strategy and partnership. Indeed, the OECD, and more specifically, the Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century (PARIS21) offers a ready-made structure on  which to found this global statistical strategy. PARIS21 was mandated to act as the Secretariat for the implementation of the Busan Action Plan for Statistics (BAPS) in 2013, a global initiative to support National Strategies for the Development of Statistics (NSDSs). Several recommendations are given to support the “data revolution”. First, the post-2015 statistical strategy should include more data sources such as the use of mobile technology, social media etc. It should also aim at developing national statistical capacity for more reliable and relevant data in the monitoring process. In this regard, the BAPS represents “an explicit and high-level political commitment” to prioritise national statistics development. Finally, the HLP also recommends the creation of a Global Partnership on Development Data for which, according to the paper, “the logical starting point” would be PARIS21 - as the only international initiative for inclusive data co-operation.

For more information on the side event:

In conclusion, the post-2015 agenda needs to rely on existing initiatives and framework for an effective “data revolution” and global goals monitoring. To that end, the paper supports the OECD’s position as the Best Supporting Actor in the global development debate, with its highly valuable expertise and experience.  

- Charlotte Demuijnck

*Murray, C.J. (2007), “Towards good practice for health statistics: Lessons from the Millennium Development Goals health indicators,” The Lancet, 3/369, pp. 862-873.

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