Let’s be transparent about refugee and IDP statistics

By Justin Schon, Postdoctoral Associate, University of Florida

refugeesIn March 2018, the Expert Group on Refugee and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Statistics (ERGIS) released detailed reports on the status of refugee and IDP statistics and challenges in compiling these statistics. The reports made many valuable recommendations for how to increase the quality and quantity of migration data, but several recent developments highlight the need to also be more transparent about the types of uncertainty that exist in our measurements.

Uganda announced in October that a recent census had revealed that it currently hosts 1.1 million refugees, not 1.4 million as had previously been believed. IOM data on displacement from Mosul in Iraq during the 2016-2017 military offensive to retake the city from ISIS forces show a sudden jump in the estimate of IDPs due to a counting adjustment. Fabrice Balanche notes that UNOCHA decreased its estimate of Syrian IDPs from 7.5 million to 6.5 million during the fall of 2015, simply due to blatant overestimates that it knew were being provided.

Uncertain estimates even exist in refugee camps, where there are large numbers of humanitarian personnel. Officials in Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp have significantly revised its estimated population multiple times after new counts. For example, the REACH initiative conducted a camp census from December 30, 2014 through January 18, 2015, and counted 7 954 fewer people in the camp than during the June 2014 count. On July 10, 2018, UNHCR deactivated nearly 11 000 camp registrations due either because they were absent from the camp, they were bailed out, they had registered elsewhere in an urban location, or they had returned to their country of origin. Continue reading

Visualising urbanisation: How the Africapolis platform sheds new light on urban dynamics in Africa

By Lia Beyeler, Communications Officer and Nisha Schumann, Consultant, Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat (SWAC/OECD)

Africa’s urban population is the fastest growing in the world. By 2050, Africa’s cities will be home to nearly one billion additional people. Yet, where and how Africa’s cities of the future emerge and evolve are insufficiently understood.

Traditionally, the focus has been put on larger cities as opposed to smaller urban agglomerations. Yet, smaller agglomerations with populations between 10,000 and 100,000 inhabitants represent one-third of Africa’s overall urban population, accounting for more than 180 million people in 2015. Their significance is highlighted by the fact that many of the continent’s future cities are emerging through the fusion of smaller cities or through population densification in rural areas – trends that are not captured in official statistics and government data, which tend to focus on cities as political units with defined boundaries.

The OECD Sahel and West Africa Club’s Africapolis platform, which launched during the 8th Africities Conference in Marrakesh, seeks to bridge the gap in data on African urbanisation dynamics. It provides a powerful tool for governments, policy makers, researchers and urban planners to better understand urbanisation’s drivers, dynamics and impacts. This understanding, in turn, will help design more relevant policies that address the growing challenges of urbanisation at the local, national and regional levels. Continue reading

Data: The first step to improving finance in African cities

By Astrid R.N. Haas, Manager of Cities that Work, International Growth Centre


This blog is part of an ongoing series exploring the intersection between intermediary cities in developing countries and sustainable development


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Hargeisa, Somalia. Photo: Shutterstock.com

Many African cities are urbanising rapidly. Yet, they are unable to adequately service their growing populations with the necessary infrastructure and amenities due to a lack of finance. Furthermore, retrofitting infrastructure on a city that has already grown is significantly more expensive. Improving local government finance is therefore very high on these cities’ agendas.

Cities can improve their finances in various ways. Perhaps one of the most underutilised yet high potential methods is property tax. Why? Rapid population growth is generally accompanied by a construction boom, increasing the number of properties. Furthermore, if demand for properties rises faster than supply, this will also increase property values. And such values will further benefit once public investments in infrastructure as well as improvements in service delivery are made. All these factors have a positive impact on property tax collection, and thus have the potential to unleash a virtuous cycle for local government revenue.
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Disentangling urban and rural food security issues in West Africa

By Richard Clarke, Consultant, Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat

The rapid growth of cities in West Africa poses significant challenges across development dimensions. In particular, as the location of poverty spreads from rural to urban areas so have issues of food insecurity and malnutrition. Indeed, the potential impact of growing food insecurity in urban areas was highlighted by the widespread rioting over food prices in 2008.

The West African region is set to experience a further doubling of its urban population over the next 20 years, having grown from 6 million to 170 million between 1950 and 2015. This growth will place greater demands on regional food systems, which themselves are increasingly exposed to adverse global climatic and economic conditions, to provide cities with their nutritional needs.   Continue reading

Food prices must drop in Africa: How can this be achieved?

By Thomas Allen, Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat (SWAC/OECD)

After the 2007-08 crisis, we got into the bad habit when discussing food prices of focusing almost exclusively on volatility and overlooking the question of the level of prices. Of course, reasons were good for this; between February 2007 and February 2008, world food prices jumped 60%. These increases combined with local factors had dramatic effects, particularly in West Africa, where millions of households already had insufficient income to cover their basic nutritional needs. Today, according to OECD and FAO projections, food prices are expected to remain stable in the medium-term. This is a good time to re-examine some important questions.

Are food products cheap in sub-Saharan Africa?

The question may seem surprising, as food is no doubt cheaper in the poorest countries. This is the first thing that any tourist would tell you, and it is confirmed by statistics. Sub-Saharan countries do indeed have the lowest prices in absolute terms (see figure). African food products are therefore much more affordable…for the European consumer. What about for the African consumer? Continue reading

What gets measured gets managed: Tapping into local procurement in the mining industry to advance development

By Luke Balleny, Manager, Role of Mining and Metals in Society, International Council on Mining and Metals

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Zambia – crusher for manufactured sand. Photo: Shutterstock

How do mining companies spend their money? If you didn’t know and listened only to the media, you might think such companies spend the most on taxes and royalties. However, you’d be wrong.

When minerals or metals are monetised, the revenue is shared between four main stakeholders in the following ways:

  1. 50–65% of mining revenue goes to operating and capital expenditure, such as the suppliers who are paid for their inputs.
  2. 15–20% goes to government, which receives its share through royalties and taxes.
  3. 15–20% goes to investors who receive profits, typically a residual after the other payments have been made.
  4. 10–20% goes to employees who are paid their wages.

A World Gold Council (WGC) study shows that out of the total annual spending in 2012 of USD 55 billion by the 15 WGC members studied, some USD 35 billion were payments to other businesses, mostly subcontracting and procurement. Less than USD 10 billion were royalty and tax payments to governments.

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Closing the gender gap requires closing the data gap

By Sarah Hendriks, Director, Gender Equality, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


Read the Development Co-operation Report 2017 to find out more about data for development


DCR ID for blogIn many ways the world now is in better shape than ever. The global poverty rate fell below 10%; we see 9 out of 10 girls and boys entering primary school, and around 85% of all the world’s children are vaccinated against the most common diseases.

While we have come a long way, challenges remain. Perhaps the most pressing one is gender equality, since it affects all other areas of a society’s development. Nowhere in the world are males and females truly equal. Women learn less, earn less, have fewer rights and have less control over their assets and bodies. One stark example is that women are less likely to be financially included: 1.1 billion women around the world still do not have a formal bank account.

Underpinning these gaps, one challenge is particularly acute for women and girls: data.

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