World leaders asked to invest in better data on children; Rwanda on track

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By Dan Ngabonziza

The installation is being launched during the UN 71st General Assembly to remind world leaders of the gaps that exist in children's data and encourage them to do more to close these gaps to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals

The installation is being launched during the UN 71st General Assembly to remind world leaders of the gaps that exist in children’s data and encourage them to do more to close these gaps to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) asked world leaders to urgently invest in systems that will enable countries to have comprehensive data collection on well being of children.

This Wednesday, UNICEF launched a “time machine” which will demonstrate data gaps in child-related Sustainable Development Goals indicators.

A new UNICEF analysis shows that sufficient data is available only for half of the child-related Sustainable Development Goals indicators.

UNICEF launches “time machine” installation at the United Nations General Assembly

Time Machine is an interactive and experiential installation that will be on display at the Secretariat Building during the UN General Assembly.

The installation was built in partnership with Domestic Data Streamers- an agency based in Barcelona that explores new ways of communicating through data storytelling.

According to the new report released by UNICEF, sufficient data is available only for half of the child-related Sustainable Development Goals indicators.

The UNICEF analysis shows that child-related data, including measures on poverty and violence that can be compared, are either too limited or of poor quality, leaving governments without the information they need to accurately address challenges facing millions of children, or to track progress towards achieving the Goals.

World leader attending the UN General Assembly will have the opportunity to access the use of Time Machine and have an opportunity to understand the data on children currently available and areas that fall short.

“The world is committed to eliminating extreme poverty among children by 2030 and to reaching those furthest behind first. If we are going to succeed in achieving these ambitious goals, we first need data that tells us who these children are, where they live and what they need,” says Jeffrey O’Malley, UNICEF Director of the Division of Data, Research and Policy.

Examples of missing data

According to UNICEF, one in three countries around the world does not have comparable measures on child poverty.

The analysis also shows that around 120 million girls under the age of 20 have been subjected to forced sexual intercourse or other forced sexual acts. Boys are also at risk, but almost no data is available.

According to the analysis, nine out of 10 children are in primary school globally, yet crucial data about how many are learning is missing. Statistics shows that the rate of enrolment in primary school in Rwanda stands at 98%.

On maternal death, UNICEF says that every day, 830 mothers around the world die as a result of complications related to childbirth-yet most of these deaths are preventable, yet there are critical data gaps about the quality of maternal care.

Furthermore, the analysis says stunting-which denies children a fair chance of survival, growth and development is lacking statistics.

According to UNICEF, 105 out of 197 countries globally do not have recent data on stunting, while one in two countries around the world lack recent data on overweight children.

Rwanda on track

Meanwhile, Rwanda through development partners like World Bank has invested heavily in data collection.

For instance, last year’s Rwanda Demographic Health Survey (DHS) conducted by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda indicated that the country has achieved the targets for underweight and wasting, but remains challenged to deal with stunting issues, with the prevalence of 37.9 percent considerably higher than the Millennium Development Goals target of 24.5 percent by last year.

With such figures, according to Innocent Nkuranga-an economist, “What Rwanda lacks is enough resources and expertise in gathering all data concerning its population and economic growth. The will is there.”

Meanwhile, a survey, released by International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in April this year, showed that on more than 10,000 households 2,788 had a stunted child.

The survey, conducted in Rwanda’s Rubavu, Ngororero, Gakenke; Musanze, Kirehe, Nyagatare, Nyaruguru, Nyamagabe and Gasabo district indicated that 32% of children in screened households are stunted.

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