AT the start of the 15 year journey towards the Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015), the absence of relevant and reliable statistical benchmarks was the norm rather than the exception in the Pacific Islands.
It is a different story in 2013 as the end of the MDG journey approaches. SPC, with generous financial assistance from AusAID, has invested huge efforts in working with member countries to develop its National Minimum Development Indicator database (www.spc.int/nmdi) and then expand the system's content and functionality to also include all population-based MDG indicators. The NMDI database was designed as a 'one-stop info-shop' to provide data users with easy access to development statistics and indicators across key sectors.
The online NMDI database has 200+ indicators that aim to provide an accurate and comprehensive snapshot of the state of development, or 'health', of specific sectors in each country. The indicators also had to be clearly linked to national development plans and regional and international reporting frameworks, including annual regional MDG tracking reports. The underlying idea was to use the smallest number of indicators possible to provide a credible account of, for example,
* the performance of national economies in the region, as compared to the economic well-being of citizens;
* how agriculture is faring across the Pacific; and
* how the health and overall well-being of Pacific Island people is progressing.
The NMDI website is now being used by the Google Data Explorer, which will allow users to more readily access country data through flexible dissemination tools as well as the Google search engine.