As part of our series on data, in partnership with Southern Voice, we are continuing to discuss with experts the impacts of better data in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The World Data Forum is intended to catalyze international cooperation and collaboration on data systems and technologies. Saadiya Razzaq offers her perspective from Islamabad, Pakistan on our three question series:
Global Daily: Can you recall a moment in your life or an experience in your work that underscored the need for better data in sustainable development?
Data is really important for planning and policy making purposes, thus making an impact on people’s life. Back in 2003, when our planning commission estimated the poverty line for Pakistan, it was analyzed that the threshold of income required for subsistence living was higher than the minimum wage. On the basis of that data, a case was moved within the government to increase the minimum wage. Therefore, through this data and analysis, the minimum wage level was increased and directly impacted people’s lives.
Another example is from Sind Province, where it was assessed that when only the nutrition-related interventions were introduced, it was not enough to bring significant changes in children’s health. But where these nutrition-related interventions were coupled with WASH(water, sanitation and hygiene)-related interventions, it brought significant changes in children’s health. Basically, data tells us what to do to bring change in people’s lives and how to improve them.
Global Daily: In what area of data for sustainable development do you see the biggest gap?
In terms of the data gap, there are some indicators where data is missing, which is really important to collect and report. But for me, the most important thing is even when data is available, it is not available at different disaggregated levels. Like for maternal mortality rates, the data is not available at the district level, which is really important to devise policies at the local level because there are significant cultural, social and economic differences across different regions. Similarly, for some of the indicators, gender disaggregated data is not available, which is again important to make an impact and to have effective policies.
Global Daily: What impact are you hoping that the World Data Forum will have?
The UN Data Forum is an excellent opportunity to learn from each other and to see what others are doing: what are the challenges they are facing, how they are coping with those challenges, and what are the best practices, as well as how we can learn from them, and how we can replicate the best practices. It is also important to highlight the importance of data and to promote the use of data in evidence-based policy making at the national, regional and global level.
Southern Voice on Post-MDG International Development Goals (Southern Voice) is a network of 49 thinks tanks from Africa, Asia and Latin America, which serves as an open platform to make contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals.
Saadiya Razzaq is currently working with Sustainable Development Policy Unit (SDPI) as Team Leader / Senior Research Associate. She is managing a Pakistan Data Portal which is an initiative of SDPI towards promoting the open data in Pakistan. She is also an active member of Southern Voice Network and Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD) on behalf of SDPI. She has done M. Phil in Economics from Qauaid-i-Azam University Islamabad with distinction. She has more than 13 years’ experience of working in the development sector. Prior to joining SDPI, she has worked with UNDP, GIZ, TAMA, WHO, WB, UNAIDS/ TSF and others in various capacities including full time employee and consultant.