Data for development impact: Why we need to invest in data, people and ideas

High quality development data is a must for development impact shutterstock_1109960660

We know that high quality development data is the foundation for meaningful policy-making, efficient resource allocation, and effective public service delivery. Unfortunately, even as new technology makes more data and wider uses of data possible, there are still many blank spaces on the global data map. A paper by my colleague Umar Serajuddin et al. (2015) describes this phenomenon as “data deprivation”, finding that as of just a few years ago, 77 countries still lacked the data needed to adequately measure poverty. What’s worse, data is often most scarce in the areas where it is most desperately needed. For one, the scarcity of individual-level data on issues like assets and consumption severely curtails our ability to make decisions to reduce gender disparities. Similarly, despite the urgency of the need to manage climate risk, significant voids remain with regards to climate data, such as impacts on freshwater resources. Education, health, food security, and infrastructure are just a few of the many other areas where more and better data is needed to deliver progress.

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