The role of data in keeping governments accountable

With the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals drawing nearer, there is much discussion around what needs to be done to achieve these goals, as well as what will happen post 2015.
(This post first appeared on the Wikiprogress ProgBlog)
It must be acknowledged that the Goals have provided a clear framework for the monitoring and evaluation of progress in key areas of development. This has resulted in a wealth of data that allows for country comparisons, which helps to give insight into where resources are the most needed. The importance of data was also recently highlighted on the topic of gender equality.
On the issue of children, the 2012 MDG report states that: 
  • The world has achieved parity in primary education between girls and boys
  • Significant progress has been made towards achieving universal primary education
  • Child survival progress is gaining ‘momentum’



  • Decreases in maternal mortality are far from the 2015 target
  • Hunger remains a global challenge and it is one that severely affects children


Data, as stated by Hilary Rodham Clinton, “not only measures progress, it inspires it. (…) what gets measured gets done. Measurement is integral to the development of effective policy and the assurance of outcomes. It is there to guide and evaluate progress on agreed priority areas as well as to hold decision makers and leaders accountable.

This week’s Wikichild Spotlight report, ‘Governance and the Rights of Children’ by UNICEF IRC discusses the role of monitoring and evaluation processes and the importance of good governance to ensuring the fulfilment of children’s rights, specifically those set out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
As the paper states, “guaranteeing and monitoring the requirements of human rights instruments is difficult and measurement of children’s rights more so”.
Why? Because the four principal challenges put forward by the report are: 1) implementation issues; 2) multifarious organisational conditions; 3)coordination of the complexities of protecting children’s rights and 4) conducting independent evaluations and assessments of the performance of governments.
To solve these issues, a coordinated response, looking beyond procedures and legal compliance to what is actually being done and the delivery of services is stated to be essential. In addition to this, monitoring and evaluation to identify impacts is fundamental.

David McNair of Save the Children stated earlier this year, “Aid alone is not enough, but transparency and accountability are essential”. Gaining clarity around what has been done and what needs to be done through the use of measurement tools lends itself to this statement. The report openly states that it is not an easy task, however one that is crucial for the lives of children and although it is unclear what form the post 2015 agenda will take in regards to children, the tracking of progress is important to make sure it continues and that governments remain key drivers of change.

Hannah Chadwick
Wikichild Coordinator 

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