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Development Account Projects

Enhancing key statistics and indicators to monitor progress towards the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals

Background:

Reliable and timely data are a fundamental tool for development analysis and policy decision-making at the national, regional and global levels. They are needed in a particular form and at specific moments in time in order to be useful for monitoring progress towards development goals and targets at all levels. Two fundamental reasons why a significant gap still exists between the demand for high quality statistics and indicators and the capacity of countries to routinely supply them are: (a) data are not being collected/produced at the country level; and (b) while some basic data are being produced and collected, countries do not have the capacity to disseminate and communicate them in an appropriate form and in a timely fashion to the relevant user groups.

While the international community has devoted considerable attention and resources to assisting countries in the collection and production of data, in developing appropriate methodological tools and in agreeing on international "production standards", relatively little attention has been paid to the challenges countries face in effectively disseminating and communicating data. This imbalance was discussed in the Secretary-General's report at the thirty-ninth session of the Statistical Commission in 2008 (E/CN.3/2008/12). The report suggested that countries need support in better targeting their various user groups through the formulation of comprehensive "data dissemination strategies". Furthermore, countries need technical support in using modern communication technologies, especially the Internet, to be able to quickly move their statistical products to the users. The Statistical Commission welcomed this report and explicitly "encouraged the Statistics Division of the DESAto continue its initiative to facilitate the exchange of experience among countries, with respect to dissemination policies and practices" (decision 39/111(f) of the Statistical Commission). This project proposal addresses these issues.

The beneficiaries of improved country capacity to disseminate and communicate data will be the broad spectrum of users, comprising the national Governments, regional and international agencies, the development research community and the public at large. In particular, modernizing and standardizing data exchange capabilities of Member States will contribute to improving the availability and timeliness of country data in key international databases (such as the Millennium Development Goal database maintained for global monitoring by the Department for Economic and Social Affairs), which will in turn benefit the United Nations intergovernmental processes charged with monitoring progress.

This project will build upon lessons learned from six statistical development account projects already implemented by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Some of the success factors of the DESAimplementation of past development accounts were the focus on a manageable number of countries, and the fact that all country-based activities were always conducted in close cooperation with the national statistical offices, in order to ensure long-term impact and sustainability.

Objective:

To improve accessibility by the users, especially policy decision makers and researchers, of timely and reliable statistics which are policy relevant and meet the increasing demand for high quality information at the national, regional and international levels.

Expected accomplishments:

  • Improved accessibility of national data and metadata by strengthening the dissemination capability and practices at the country level
  • Improved accessibility of national and the United Nations system data by enhancing the content and the functionality of the data portal, as a key vehicle to facilitate effective international data flow

Implementation status:

ICompleted