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Promoting Better Use of Data in Uganda

Jane Auma
Jul 10, 2014
The relevance of data to enhance public service delivery cannot be overemphasized. Data is relevant for decision-making particularly with regards to defining needs, setting goals, planning interventions and evaluating progress. 
 
In Uganda, the National Development Plan (2010/11-2014/15) noted that limited use and appreciation of statistics for policy design, formulation and development debates is one of the key binding constraints to the performance of the National Statistics sector. Similarly, a Village Health Team (VHT) situational analysis conducted by UNICEF in 2009 revealed that while 97% of the VHT provided health related data from communities, only 9% of this was used for health planning.
 
A similar theme is explored by Phiona Sanyu in her article "Promote the use of data to fight poverty," which appeared on June 30, 2014 in the Ugandan national newspaper New Vision. Sanyu highlighted a study in Kenya and Uganda which revealed that data is ignored in preference for political consideration. She notes that while Local Governments have at least 70% of the data they need for planning purposes, it is lying idle and yet data is expensive to produce making its none use a waste of time and resources.
 
Global Pulse promotes and conducts safe and responsible use of big data as a public good. Its mission is to accelerate discovery, development and adoption of big data innovation for sustainable development and humanitarian action. To achieve this, our Pulse Labs in Jakarta, New York and here in Kampala conduct proof of concept research in partnership with different UN entities including UNICEF, WFP, WHO and UNAIDS.
 
Such projects utilize data sets including: international and local online news sources, radio content, publicly accessible blogs, forum posts, comments, public social media content; and in some cases transactional data from the use of digital sources such as mobile money transactions or data from cell towers revealing broad mass movement. This data is anonymised, analysed and utilised to understand human behaviour, inform policy formulation, global development and humanitarian action. Analyses of this information is advantageous in enhancing early warning and detecting anomalies; enhancing real time awareness by providing an up-to-date picture of events and provides a rapid impact evaluation thereby improving general social service delivery.
 
To effectively deliver on this mandate, UN Global Pulse/Pulse Lab Kampala has a robust strategy one of the objectives of which is to promote the importance and appreciation of evidence-based decision-making among policymakers and development practitioners to improve service delivery. If attained, this will enhance the Government of Uganda’s performance on the statistical sector and further improve the UN, Government and Civil society delivery of social services to its target populations.
 
Join us in promoting evidence-based decision-making and policy formulation, to modernise development.
 
Comment or email me at jane.auma@one.un.org
 
 
Image: A nurse in Uganda, by IICD, via Flickr Creative Commons. While Village Health Teams are providing data, it is infrequently drawn upon for subsequent planning
 

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