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Making data work for everyone

Ana Revenga's picture
When you think about ending poverty and promoting shared prosperity, what comes to mind?  For many people, it is building schools and roads, developing effective safety net programs, improving health facilities, making more and better jobs available, and so forth… for good reason.

But how do we know where to build these roads and schools? How do we find out who needs health facilities, and what kinds of skills exist in a particular country in order to design better employment programs? How do we know where and which kinds of deprivation exist, in order to design safety net programs that actually work?

The answer? Data. Good data. And lots of it. The World Bank Group’s 2014 Policy Research Report: A Measured Approach to Ending Poverty and Boosting Shared Prosperity, takes a carefully considered view of the progress and challenges of measuring and monitoring the twin goals, and pays special attention to data.  
Most Recent Household Consumption Surveys Available, Africa
Source: World Bank Africa Region, Statistics Practice Team

Have your say: what do you want from a development data revolution?

Haishan Fu's picture

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If you’ve been reading anything related to international development in the last year, you will have seen rich conversations around the the idea of a “data revolution”. What exactly would a data revolution look like? What would its aims be? Is it about data collection, use, analysis, all of the above, or something else entirely?

To answer these and other questions, the United Nations Secretary General recently formed an Independent Expert Advisory Group (IEAG) on the “Data revolution for development”. I’m part of this group: we’ve been tasked with making recommendations on how to achieve a data revolution. We have to do it quickly - and we want to get your inputs too!

Identifying poor-rich gaps in accessing maternal health care

Haruna Kashiwase's picture

The most recent data show significant strides in reducing maternal mortality at the national level over the past 20 years.  Improvements in access to maternal health care, especially in skilled birth assistance, have contributed to the reduction of maternal mortality. 

While these improvements are impressive, the national level data often mask inequalities in skilled birth assistance within countries. There may be gaps within a country, for example, where wealthy women might have better access than women from poor households. According to the World Health Organization, "The high number of maternal deaths in some areas of the world reflects inequities in access to health services, and highlights the gap between rich and poor."

Good Open Data. . . by design

Victoria L. Lemieux's picture

An unprecedented number of individuals and organizations are finding ways to explore, interpret and use Open Data. Public agencies are hosting Open Data events such as meetups, hackathons and data dives. The potential of these initiatives is great, including support for economic development (McKinsey, 2013), anti-corruption (European Public Sector Information Platform, 2014) and accountability (Open Government Partnership, 2012). But is Open Data's full potential being realized?

Data ambassadors wrapping up at
DataDive2013. Photo:
Carlos Teodoro Linares Carvalho.

A news item from Computer Weekly casts doubt. A recent report notes that, in the United Kingdom (UK), poor data quality is hindering the government's Open Data program. The report goes on to explain that – in an effort to make the public sector more transparent and accountable – UK public bodies have been publishing spending records every month since November 2010. The authors of the report, who conducted an analysis of 50 spending-related data releases by the Cabinet Office since May 2010, found that that the data was of such poor quality that using it would require advanced computer skills.

Far from being a one-off problem, research suggests that this issue is ubiquitous and endemic. Some estimates indicate that as much as 80 percent of the time and cost of an analytics project is attributable to the need to clean up "dirty data" (Dasu and Johnson, 2003).

Global child mortality rate dropped 49% since 1990

Emi Suzuki's picture
Also available in: 中文 | العربية | Español | Français

The under-5 mortality rate worldwide has fallen by 49% since 1990, according to new child mortality estimates and press release launched today. This information is also summarized in the report Levels and Trends in Child Mortality 2014 by the United Nations Inter-Agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME).  Put another way, about 17,000 fewer children under-5 died each day in 2013 than in 1990.

These rates are falling faster than at any other time during the past two decades: from a 1.2% annual reduction during 1990-1995 to a 4% reduction during 2005-2013. 

More children making it to their fifth birthday
The major improvements in under-5 child survival since 1990 are attributable to better access to affordable, quality health care, as well as the expansion of health programs that reach the most vulnerable newborns and children.

The 49% drop – from 90 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990, to 46 deaths in 2013 – means that a baby born today has a dramatically better chance of survival to age 5 compared with a baby born in 1990.   

More progress needed to achieve the global Millennium Development Goal 4 target
Four out of 6 World Bank Group regions are on track to achieve Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG 4), which is to reduce the under-5 mortality rate by two-thirds by 2015.  Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are two regions where the rates of decline remain insufficient to reach MDG 4 on a global scale.  In 2013, the highest under-5 mortality rate was in Sub-Saharan Africa, where there were 92 deaths per 1,000 live births or where 1 in 11 children die before reaching the age of 5.

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International Literacy Day: what recent youth literacy data tell us

Paige Morency-Notario's picture

As a former public school teacher, I have a special place in my heart for literacy issues.  I know first-hand both the joy of reading with children and the very real pains that struggling with literacy can leave on a child’s life.

In light of my professional exposure to this topic and the fact that yesterday was International Literacy Day, I decided to take a look at the World Bank’s literacy data to get an idea of how literacy rates worldwide are progressing or still facing challenges. 
The theme of this year’s International Literacy Day 2014 is “Literacy and Sustainable Development.”  For developing countries in particular, literacy is one of the key elements needed to promote sustainable development as it empowers people to make the right decisions in the areas of educational growth and socioeconomic development.

Open data on the ground: Kenya’s Data Science

Samuel Lee's picture
How are individuals and organizations taking advantage of the data that governments are publishing? This is part of a series looking at how data are being used for social good.  Last time we covered Nigeria’s Follow the Money Initiative, this time we’re heading to East Africa.

In Kenya, Data Science, LTD (www.datascience.co.ke) is a data analysis and research company providing services to government, local organizations, and businesses. The company seeks to promote greater understanding and use of available data to gain insights for better planning, resource allocation, and entrepreneurship.  This blog post is based on a recent Google Hangout discussion with Data Science, LTD founder Linet Kwamboka.

So what is it like being a data analysis company in Kenya, and what can others learn from Linet’s experience?

Open data roots 
Linet worked on the World Bank supported opendata.go.ke as a project manager in the lead up to the initiative's launch in 2011.  The company works with clients seeking to utilize data to make better decisions.  They include private companies involved in marketing, jobs, retail, and consumer products. With government and civil society clients, the focus is to improve decision-making that lead to better public services and advocacy efforts.

Overcoming gaps in data
Linet has learned that the tasks of sourcing, analyzing, and transforming data into more readily consumed and actionable forms can take a significant amount of effort and time.  In many situations, the data simply do not exist or are out of date.  
 

Taking a closer look at youth-related data: regional trends, differences

Hiroko Maeda's picture
Also available in: 中文 | Español | Français | العربية

August 12 marked the 15th anniversary of International Youth Day, which got me thinking – what kind of data do we have on young people?  The United Nations defines youth as the population aged 15-24.

This is a group that is in a transition period from childhood to adulthood.  Since this period (ages 15-24) affects adulthood more directly than childhood, youth-related data can provide insights into how we can better address their future opportunities and challenges.

"The potential possibilities of any child are the most intriguing and stimulating in all creation."
– Ray Wilbur, American educator



​Where are the highest concentrations of young people?

In 2013, people who were born between 1989 and 1998 accounted for 17% of the world's total population – 1.2 billion. While the world's population continues to grow, the youth population has declined gradually after it peaked in 2010.  The youth population in high-income countries decreased by 6 million between 2010 and 2013, a reflection of the aging population trend in this income group.

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