The World Bank has launched a data literacy program to improve evidence-based policymaking and development outcomes in Sudan.
Funded by UKAid, experts from the World Bank will work over the next eight months to bridge the gap between data producers and data consumers. The program will bring together statisticians, who produce oftentimes complex development indicators, and journalists, academics and government officials, who use this data to inform policymaking.
“This initiative is timely,” said World Bank Country Representative to Sudan, Xavier Furtado. “In addition to better quality data, the World Bank hopes that the Evidence Base Program will contribute to greater transparency and accountability in how public policy is debated and decisions are made.”
Sudan faces a complex set of development issues requiring sound policy.
The most recent data from the World Health Organization indicates that the under-five mortality rate is 77 per 1000 children, the maternal mortality rate is 360 per 100,000 live births and the number of deaths due to tuberculosis is just over 25 per 100,000 citizens. The most recent data from The World Bank indicates that 46.5 percent of the population in Sudan is living in poverty.
But WHO notes that its figures haven’t been updated since 2013 and Sudan didn’t begin to measure these statistics until between 1990 and 2000. The World Bank also notes that its figures have not been updated since 2009. On the World Bank’s 0-100 scale of level of statistical capacity, Sudan sits just above 51, compared to the average for all sub-Saharan African countries of 70.
Finding solutions to the challenges facing Sudan will require targeted, efficient development programs and leaders cannot hope to make progress without first filling its data literacy and acquisition gaps.
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has also been working toward this objective. Since 2006, UNDP has hosted workshops designed to train government representatives on how to understand, analyze and utilize development data – hoping to foster better aid policy.
“We understand that changes will not happen overnight,” Furtado said. But by building capacity to collect, analyze and manage reliable data at national and provincial levels through its new program, the World Bank hopes to ingrain data use into the development culture of the fragile state. In turn, they estimate that better programs and more inclusive economic growth will occur.
– Ron Minard