• Briefing
  • 14 November 2017

The Development Data Assessment


Bill Anderson, Steve Kenei, Wilbrod Ntawiha

Reviewing and mapping the best national data assets

Development decision-makers need to be data users. They need to know what information is available about the poorest and most vulnerable people in order to make the best choices regarding resource allocation, policy and service delivery at national and local levels of government. Data is also required to assess development progress, forming the basis for monitoring both national and global indicators, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To fulfill these requirements, data must be timely and reliable.

It’s necessary to understand the available national data resources to help identify what data there is to support decision-making and accountability and to highlight areas for further investment into data assets. In many countries there are either significant gaps in the available data or a lack of high-quality data.

To ensure that the best data is being employed, users need to know as much as possible about the quality of the data source – this can be affected by the frequency and timeliness of collection, the coverage, relevance, comprehensiveness and openness/accessibility. Users also need to know if the data is, or can be, disaggregated, for example by age, gender, disability or location. Furthermore, users need to be able assess from a single access point the data that is available, across sectors and geography, and across indicators such as poverty rates, asset ownership, nutrition and consumption.

Development Initiatives has developed the Development Data Assessment – a methodology that supports governments to identify where quality data for decision-making and policy formulation is available, where data is of poorer quality, and where there are gaps. The methodology is accompanied by a tool that allows users to investigate and interrogate the data. Both the tool (built using D3, an open-source JavaScript library) and the data behind it are public, and the tool is still undergoing development.

An earlier version of this work was piloted in Uganda, and we published the results in 2016. The Development Data Assessment is now being trialled in Uganda, Kenya and Nepal.

See the contact details on the last page of the paper to find out how to get in touch for more detail on applying the Development Data Assessment methodology.