But organisations can often overlook the issues and challenges involved in collecting data that includes everyone. Hearing from other global development actors who are collecting inclusive data, such as data that is disaggregated by age, sex, disability and other characteristics, would go a long way.
That is exactly what Sightsavers and our partners decided to do. To share tips and learning from inclusive data collection, we hosted a learning event.
Our four speakers from Development Initiatives, HelpAge International, UN Women and Sightsavers gave a clear message: that collecting inclusive data to improve the equity of outcomes for all is a universal and overarching objective.
This aligns well with the “leave no one behind” principle of the SDGs. The four presenters agreed on a range of issues such as the importance of trialling questions and providing comprehensive training for data collectors. Overall, three distinct themes came through during this event.
There is a lot of value in disaggregating data by various characteristics. However, we also need to acknowledge when it is not appropriate.
Alex Goldsworthy from Help Age advised caution on disaggregating beyond the limits of the available data, such as when faced with small sample sizes.
This is because when the sample is too small, it won’t provide results that can be generalised to the wider population, meaning that it’s difficult to make decisions. It can also lead to misleading results, as the sample is not representative of the disparities that may exist at community and household level.
In this situation, Goldsworthy suggested using other data collection methods such as focus group discussions and key informant interviews instead.
Claudia Wells from Development Initiatives spoke of the transformative power of data, stating that “what doesn’t get counted, doesn’t count.”
Rather than focusing solely on the marginalised populations, she described an interesting and innovative approach that her organisation had taken. Development Initiatives had investigated whether aid flows to disability-specific projects were inclusive of people with disabilities.
They found that of the 25% of aid identified as disability inclusive, only 3% was disbursed by organisations for persons with disabilities.
All the speakers mentioned the need to involve local organisations when gathering data in a particular country. This includes national governments, statistical offices, organisations of people with disabilities (OPDs), and especially the beneficiaries themselves.
Papa Seck from UN Women said: “The needs are local. The policies to address those needs are local. Therefore, the data needs to be locally produced as well.”
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, aim to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for everyone by 2030.About the Global Goals