The inclusion of people with disabilities is at the heart of Sightsavers’ mission. But without robust inclusive data, it is impossible to adequately plan and allocate the necessary resources to ensure our programmes achieve their objectives.
Inclusive data allows us to understand the people and communities we work with and to monitor who we reach, while ensuring we address and mitigate inequalities.
We spoke to Dominic Haslam, Sightsavers’ director of policy and programme strategy, about the launch of our second Inclusive Data Charter Action Plan and how it reaffirms our commitment to advancing the collection, analysis and use of inclusive data alongside others in the development sector.
At Sightsavers, inclusive data means collecting, analysing and using data that is broken down (or ‘disaggregated’) by disability, sex and age, while also bringing in dimensions such as geography, wealth and poverty, where relevant and valuable.
We’ve increased our own understanding of the intersecting nature of marginalisation and inequality, helping us to better understand the barriers that people face. The data we’re collecting across our thematic areas of health and inclusion has grown significantly. Our understanding of the technology and approaches we can use has also grown and we’re way ahead of where we were three or four years ago.
I’d like to mention our relationships with governments and national statistics offices, which is a huge area of progress. Sightsavers has built strong relationships on inclusive data with countries such as Senegal, Nigeria and Pakistan, and together there’s a shared approach to problems and solutions, which goes beyond our own engagement and areas of focus.
It’s an analogy that I’ve used quite a few times over the years: the lifting-the-rock moment. We work with governments but in the end, governments are made up of individuals. They have a positive sense of mission and purpose. They want to be doing things in the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Social Welfare and so on. They want to make lives better for the citizens of their countries. But they know that there are people not being reached or who are not able to access services. They know which population groups these are but don’t have the data and the evidence to show it. And they are already stretched for resources: financial, staffing, technical and so on.
So, nobody really wants to lift that rock, because once you lift the rock, you have the data and the evidence. You know what the scale of the problem is and it’s your job to fix it. But you’ve already got enough problems on your plate without the resources to solve them. So, you don’t really want to lift that rock. And I think the Inclusive Data Charter has enabled those kinds of lifting-the-rock moments in a really positive sense.
Together, working alongside each other, we know that there are going to be challenges in collecting, using and analysing data. But nobody’s judging anybody. What we’re saying is that having the data is a starting point. If you don’t have the data, then you don’t know the scale of the problem.
And I think these lifting-the-rock moments have been increasingly positive over the last few years. And other governments want to sign up to the Inclusive Data Charter and I think that’s a really, really positive sign.
Dominic Haslam OBE is Sightsavers’ director of policy and programme strategy. Read more about Dom