Rethinking how we collect, share, and use development results data

Development Gateway: “The international development community spends a great deal of time, effort, and money gathering data on thousands of indicators embedded in various levels of Results Frameworks. These data comprise outputs (school enrollment, immunization figures), program outcomes (educational attainment, disease prevalence), and, in some cases, impacts (changes in key outcomes over time).

Ostensibly, we use results data to allocate resources to the places, partners, and programs most likely to achieve lasting success. But is this data good enough – and is it used well enough – to genuinely increase development impact in priority areas?

Experience suggests that decision-makers at all levels may often face inadequate, incorrect, late, or incomplete results data. At the same time, a figurative “Tower of Babel” of both project-level M&E and program-level outcome data can make it difficult for agencies and organizations to share and use data effectively. Further, potential users may not have the skills, resources, or enabling environment to meaningfully analyze and apply results data to decisions. With these challenges in mind, the development community needs to re-think its investments in results data, making sure that the right users are able to collect, share, and use this information to maximum effect.

Our Initiative

To this end, Development Gateway (DG), with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to “diagnose” the results data ecosystem in three countries, identifying ways to improve data quality, sharing, and use in the health and agriculture sectors. Some of our important questions include:

  • Quality: Who collects data and how? Is data quality adequate? Does the data meet actual needs? How much time does data collection demand? How can data collection, quality, and reporting be improved?
  • Sharing: How can we compare results data from different donors, governments, and implementers? Is there demand for comparability? Should data be shared more freely? If so, how?
  • Use: How is results data analyzed and used to inform actual policies and plans? Does (or can) access to results data improve decision-making? Do the right people have the right data? How else can (or should) we promote data use?…(More)”