More data needed for child-related SDG indicators

With Botswana in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) whose deadline is nine years away, the country has been cautioned that insufficient data could hamper its efforts to achieve child-related SDG indicators which are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Report 2021 states that “an average of 74 per cent of child-related SDG indicators either have insufficient data or show insufficient progress to meet the global targets by 2030”. The fresh reports also state that as the pandemic continues to rage, data is now widely accepted as a strategic asset in building back better and accelerating the implementation of the SDGs. “Timely and high-quality data are more essential than ever,” states part of the report.

The advancements in data availability have a direct impact on people’s lives. The availability of internationally comparable data on the SDGs has drastically improved over the years with the number of indicators included in the global SDG database increasing from 115 in 2016 to around 211 in 2021. Although the SDG 2021 report did not explicitly mention Botswana, the report highlights issues that have for a long time been problematic in Botswana such as access and availability of publicly available data.

The report also states that huge data gaps still exist in all areas of the SDGs in terms of geographic coverage, timeliness and the level of disaggregation required. “A lack of data severely limits a country’s ability to reach children and their families – to ensure that they have the services, opportunities and choices they deserve to live life to the fullest,” states the report.

Among other things, the report states that “an analysis of the indicators in the Global SDG Indicators Database reveals that, for 5 of the 17 Goals, fewer than half of 193 countries or areas have internationally comparable data”.

In 2020, Open Data Inventory (ODIN) report highlighted that Botswana is among countries in the world which are publishing inadequate data disaggregated by sex, thereby putting a strain on efforts to improve gender equality. The report states that such data is “used to identify specific needs, formulate policies to address shortcomings, and monitor their impact on women and their families.”

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