Localizing the Data Revolution

As a development community, we invest a great deal in data-related activities – particularly for monitoring and results reporting. But are the ways in which we gather, share, and use this information as efficient and impactful as they must be, to achieve the 2030 Agenda?

Over the past year, through our Results Data Initiative (RDI), Development Gateway sought to understand how local-level development actors interact with results information. With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, the RDI team interviewed 450+ representatives from national governments, local officials, development partners, and NGOs in three countries – Ghana, Tanzania, and Sri Lanka – focusing on health and agriculture sectors.

The major lessons? Local actors want more specific, disaggregated data to measure their results – and need resources to ensure data quality. They ask for tools, skills, and resources to use data well. And, just as importantly, they need space – and incentives – to use data meaningfully. Development leaders need to make data use a priority, and reward those who use data meaningfully to improve their impact. Finally, local actors need resources to do something differently as a result of data-driven insights.

Data and technology are powerful tools for development – but we must do more to mainstream data and technology use into decision-making and budgeting processes. No easy task, DG aims to tackle these “political economy of data issues” through new and existing program initiatives over the coming year.

This article is excerpted from DG’s 2016 Annual Report, which you may download or view online.