UNICEF: Lack of data to measure progress

THE United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF’s) first assessment of achievements toward the sustainable development goals (SDG) for children in several Pacific Island countries reveals an alarming lack of data to measure progress in these countries.

According to the report, the average composite score on data capacity in the Asia and Pacific region was 74 out of a possible total of 100 with Pacific Island countries falling below the average with Fiji having a score of 70.

UNICEF Pacific representative Sheldon Yett said without investments in the collection and analysis of reliable data on behalf of the Pacific’s children, governments would not have the foundation to base decisions and actions to improve children’s lives.

“Data do not, of themselves, change the world,” he said.

“They make change possible by identifying needs and gauging progress. What matters most is that decision-makers use the data to make positive change, and that the data are available to hold governments, and development partners to account.”

The report, Progress for Children in the SDG Era, is the first thematic report assessing performance toward achieving global development goals which impact on children’s rights and wellbeing.

It tracks progress on five dimensions of children’s rights — good health, learning, protection from violence and exploitation, safe and clean environment, and a fair chance to succeed in life.

The report highlighted a lack of internationally comparable data on the five dimensions of children’s rights in several Pacific Island countries.

It warned that insufficient or no data risked leaving children behind on such critical issues as improving health, sanitation and education, as well as protecting children from violence, abuse and exploitation.

In areas where data was available, the report highlighted that several Pacific countries were on track to meet child-related SDG targets.

“For instance nine countries except for Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Kiribati and Solomon Islands are likely to meet the SDG target on basic sanitation services,” the report said.

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