BY Astrid Marschatz, Mohamed Mutasim | July 5, 2016
There’s no way back from data! Organizing information, understanding trends and making strategic decisions based on data is becoming an inexorable necessity. Many initiatives have highlighted the importance of using data to conceptualize and implement more effective development strategies: the Independent Expert Advisory Group’s report A World that Counts: Mobilizing the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development and the UN Sustainable Development Solution Network’s report Data for Development are just two examples showing that there is no way back from data in our field of work. So we wanted to test out how the UN in Sudan can use technology to get insights from data. We started looking into the different options available and we are currently working to harness tools like data visualization technology, mapping tools, mobile data collection systems, and more. What are our data needs in Sudan? Monitoring progress on the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) in Sudan has been a challenge due in part to weak and fragmented data collection and analysis mechanisms. As a result, the UN Country Team in Sudan has struggled to measure and communicate to partners its collective contribution to the development of the country. Once we defined this as our core problem, we went back to the drawing board and decided to create a web-based common system to collate, manage, analyze and visualize UNDAF indicator data using a variety of technology tools. In that spirit, motivated by similar tools such as U-report and M-vam, the UN Country Team in Sudan worked with Community Systems Foundation to develop the UNDAF Indicator Reporting System (IREPS) to help monitor and report on UN development interventions in the country. So what exactly is IREPS and what are its features? IREPS is developed as a user-friendly, web-based common platform to facilitate monitoring and reporting on the UNDAF. UN staff are able to quickly and securely enter, track and analyze UNDAF performance from anywhere using online tools. We linked IREPS to SudanInfo (a database containing a wealth of data from the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys for Sudan), so that we can connect UNDAF data to socio-economic indicators and enhance their analysis. IREPS is also supported by a bounded-crowd SMS-based data collection mechanism. At a glance, IREPS has three parts: 1) Indicator reporting to help users track progress towards UNDAF targets. Data entered by multiple users will get updated in real time. The system is designed to allow the entry, display and download of narrative reports, too. 2) Survey creation and data collection through mobile phone SMS plug-in: The SMS feature allows the creation and dissemination of survey questions to community users and the remote collection of real-time data through mobile phones. 3) Performance dashboard which enables users to view various charts automatically, including who-does-what-where maps, and thematic maps and graphs showing data for UNDAF outcome and output indicators, as well as indicators in SudanInfo and data collected via SMS. The dashboard also presents traffic light summaries for the UNDAF outcomes and outputs. With these functions IREPS is using technology to harness data to support our work and help us be more results-oriented, transparent, accountable, as well as to increase our coherence in monitoring and reporting. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence - Carl Sagan Our innovation in Sudan is an attempt to pave the way to help the UN system be a part of the data revolution. We launched IREPS, with flying colors, in May, and it was appreciated positively. So much so that a number of UN agencies in Sudan started using it for their own monitoring purposes! As it is based on open source software, we are happy to share it to help other UN Country teams monitor and report on the UNDAF. Our aim through the IREPS SMS plug-in is to gather perceptions and opinions from individuals across Sudan, including remote areas, to provide contextual information for an improved understanding of UNDAF data from administrative and survey data. We can also use it to understand how national and local partnerships are going. For instance, to gauge the effectiveness of UN capacity building activities (e.g. training workshops on new irrigation techniques in various states) we can use the SMS tool to collect feedback on how our partners are applying what they learn. In addition, we can use the SMS feature to outreach to communities and raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Agenda 2030. We would like to invite you to join our efforts, sharing ideas and experiences on how we can advance IREPS to shape the way we think about transforming data into better decisions-making to bring about a positive impact for development.
November 9, 2016
The constitutional pathway Morocco’s national priorities are derived from its 2011 constitutional reforms with a focus to: complete the democratic transition and strengthen human rights; improve its economic viability, environmental sustainability and social stability; scale up climate change adaptation and energy transition; and consolidate its strategic leadership regionally and globally. For Morocco, the transition from the MDGs to the SDGs has enabled a strategic focus on inclusive development and the environment. As a further testament to the country’s commitment to sustainable development, in 2016 Morocco will host the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP22) in Marrakech. National ownership The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the High Commission for Planning in Morocco, together with a national interministerial committee and the UNCT, organized a national consultation in May 2016 under the theme ‘Contextualization of the 2030 Agenda in Morocco: Leave No One Behind’. During the consultations, approximately 500 stakeholders had the opportunity to collectively examine the 2030 Agenda, learn about the country’s engagement at the international level and explore their roles and responsibilities to achieve the goals. It was also the first opportunity for high-level public officials to take stock collectively on key national policies and sectoral strategies related to the SDGs. Raising public awareness Close to 200 non-state participants, mainly digital entrepreneurs, children and young people, civil society activists, celebrities, journalists and activists joined the national consultation. The UN also engaged the Royal Institute of the Amazigh Culture to translate the SDGs into the Amazigh language, which in 2011 became an official language of Morocco, alongside Arabic. Social media (#MarocODD) was used to inform stakeholders about the issues to be discussed at the national consultation workshop. Also, as part of the ‘Project Everyone’ campaign during the week preceding the UN Sustainable Development Summit, Hit Radio, a leading radio station with approximately 1.8 million listeners per day, partnered with the UN to translate SDG messages into Moroccan Arabic and broadcast them to reach young people. Reviewing the SDGs and the national context Thirty-five high-level panellists from the Moroccan parliament, administration, the Ministry of Justice, the Human Rights Council and the Confederation of Business Enterprises gave presentations on the status of the SDGs related to their sectors during the national consultations. The discussions and exchanges among participants collectively examined the work in progress and implementation and monitoring challenges. It also delved into the need for public policy coherence, adequate financing, and monitoring and evaluation systems. The Planning Commission shared the national framework which addresses the main targets and indicators. An initial analysis by the government revealed that the national statistical system can produce data on about 63 percent of the global SDG indicators. The missing data relate mainly to the SDGs on governance and the environment. Inclusive participation The Economic and Social Council, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UN system brought together CSOs and national institutions in the consultations. Discussions included how to support local authorities in the development, implementation and monitoring of the SDGs, and how to effectively engage children and youth and foster awareness and ownership of the 2030 Agenda. The role of CSOs in maintaining the public debate was also highlighted. UN entities such as UNDP, the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), UNESCO, UNV and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) proposed areas of policy support and tools at regional, national and subnational levels in support of contextualizing and accelerating the SDGs in Morocco. With a particular focus on children and youth, UNICEF and UNV organized sessions during and after the national consultations, leading to positive feedback that those sessions helped enhance the civic engagement of young people at the local level.
To enhance coordination and collective action, the Regional UNDG has established thematic working groups in a number of key selected areas. These working groups ensure coordinated responses at the regional level and provide quality technical support and advise to UN country teams at the national level.READ MORE