Counting the invisible: Three priorities for strengthening statistical capacities in the SDG era

By Johannes Jütting, Executive Head PARIS21, Rolando Avendano, Economist, Asian Development Bank and Manuel Kuhm, Research Support Officer (PARIS21)

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Better policies need better data. High-quality data and official statistics are vital for governments, civil society, the private sector and the public to make informed decisions, create effective polices, and establish good governance. Under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, data-driven policy making takes on even greater significance. For if we are to “leave no one behind”, we must first ensure that everyone is counted.

Yet today, more than 110 low and middle-income countries lack functional civil registration and vital statistics systems and under-record or omit vital events of specific populations. Those living in poverty are most likely to be excluded—the poorest 20% of the global population account for 55% of unregistered births. Only 37 countries have statistical legislation that complies with the United Nations (UN) Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics.

If we don’t even know who the poorest are, how can we ensure that they aren’t left behind?

At the same time, while a global Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicator framework is an essential part of Agenda 2030, it is putting pressure on national statistical systems. In addition to the demand of compiling 232 national-level indicators, the Agenda requires that data are disaggregated by income, sex and gender, geography, age and disability, far beyond current capacity in many developing countries. Continue reading

Building Evidence to Change Women’s Lives

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By Miren Bengoa, Executive Director, Fondation CHANEL


This blog is part of a special series marking the launch of the updated
2019 
Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI)

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Girls benefit from Corstone in India

A saying that motivates our philanthropic work at Fondation CHANEL is that “you don’t know what you don’t know.” This humble recognition drives us in filling our blind spots through evidence building so that we can succeed in delivering on our social mission to advance women and girls in society.

As a global private donor, we select amongst many filters to decide who and what to support. But how can we make those choices with greater confidence? For the past seven years, we have built a stronger knowledge base by compiling strategies from around the world that make a difference for girls and women. By cooperating with several grassroots and development organisations, social businesses and research institutions, the Foundation is bridging some gaps in understanding what works in which contexts and how to approach the complex social changes needed to reduce gender inequalities.

So what are the key stages for uncovering the unknown?
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How can developing countries learn to tax?

By Antonio Savoia, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester; Roberto Ricciuti, University of Verona and CESifo; and Kunal Sen, UNU-WIDER and Global Development Institute, University of Manchester

Development-Finance-shutterstock_524218915The capability to raise revenues from taxes – often called fiscal capacity – is a crucial aspect for the functioning of every state, particularly in developing countries. Two reasons account for this. First, greater fiscal capacity is fundamentally important for state formation, as it is usually associated with the creation of a civilian bureaucracy that can itself provide an enabling environment for the consolidation of statehood. Second, greater fiscal capacity implies greater access to resources needed to provide public goods. Developing countries are only able to raise a small share of taxes over GDP compared to advanced economies. They need higher revenues to invest in a number of economic and social areas that are crucial for their growth, such as healthcare, education and infrastructure. This is also relevant to pursue the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, an ambitious enterprise requiring far greater resources. Indeed, SDG 17 explicitly refers to the mobilisation of government revenues (Target 17.1).

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Measuring beyond outcomes: Understanding gender inequality

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By Papa A. Seck (@PABSeck), Chief Statistician, UN Women


This blog is part of a special series marking the launch of the updated
2019 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI)


burkina-faso-sigi-papa-e1544171190150.jpgOver her lifetime, a girl born today in Germany is expected to earn just about half the income of a boy born on the same day. In France and Sweden, she fares slightly better at about 70%. In Turkey, she can expect to earn no more than a quarter.1 Globally, it is estimated that 35% of women have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner at some point in their lives. This is the most egregious violation of women’s rights and it is pervasive in all countries around the world, developed and developing alike. Such violence has often tragic consequences. A recent study by UNODC found that a shocking six women are killed every hour by a family member.2 An estimated 650 million women and girls in the world today were married before age 18, and at least 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in the 30 countries with representative data on its prevalence. Women around the world do 2.6 times the unpaid care and domestic work that men do, simply because that task is delegated to them by our societies. Continue reading

Paving the Way Towards Progress that Counts

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By Katja Iversen, President/CEO, Women Deliver


This blog is part of a special series marking the launch of the updated
2019 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI)


Sigi-1How can we power development that leaves no one behind?

As we edge towards 2030 – with long ways to go to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – there may be no more pressing question.

As a champion for gender equality, I have long known that girls and women are powerful agents of change and drivers of development. I see it every day, where even in the most impoverished communities and circumstances women get up, get dressed, and go out to fight for better lives for themselves, their children and their families. And because of that, Women Deliver focuses, relentlessly, on pushing decision makers to place girls and women at the centre of development agendas and approaches.

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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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