This is at least a plan for how we can understand activity and impact of funding for social impact. I'm unclear on whether it's possible to shrink the black box between inputs (funded activities) and outcomes (as collected by national statistics agencies) sufficiently to derive insights, but I appreciate that it is a plan.
I would like to see more plans of this nature.
What should happen next?
Donors can play an important role in this process.
Firstly, by recognising that they cannot evaluate their own activities without data gathered in the environs of the point of delivery by the national statistical system, they will help drive demand for better collection and release of sub-national data in all recipient countries. This demand will lead to an awareness of the importance of funding initiatives aimed at improving the capacity of the national statistical system.
Secondly, by recognising that the impact data that they require can only be credible if it is collected independently of their own activities, they will in turn realise the need to respect and support an independent and sustainable national statistical system.
Thirdly, by publishing geocoded data on their activities to the IATI standard it will be possible to compare them not only with other aid programmes but also with domestic initiatives. This means a more rounded assessment of development can be conducted.
On a related note, I wonder if Development Initiatives is focusing more on administrative data these days.
Mobilise the power of administrative data – improving administrative data systems at country level is a difficult but essential job. Unless we count people – collect real-time data on the services that are reaching them, who is being born and where, who is dying and why – we will not be able to target the people most in need and ensure their lives are improving. Currently 55% of the poorest 20% of people in the world do not have their births registered. If you are invisible to your government, it cannot target you specifically to prevent you from being left behind. Civil registration and better administrative data systems are essential for policymakers working at the national and subnational level to plan, deliver, manage and monitor the services that are fundamental to people’s lives – health, education, water, sanitation, social protection. By improving administrative systems disaggregated data will increase too and so will its coverage and frequency.
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