Giving Compass' Take:

· In this article from FeedbackLabs, Emily Castro touches on the importance of information-gathering and data-use to help with SDG attainment.

· How can philanthropy help advance progress on the SDGs? How is data being used to make informative policy decisions?

· Learn how data helps drive progress on the Sustainable Development Goals.

Data are crucial to informing how we design sustainable solutions for development. In order to realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the 193 Member States of the United Nations, changemakers are turning to technology to help achieve better data collection. Whether they are implementing SMS text systems to record census responses, or using image sorting technology to categorize photographs of inadequate sanitation, they are innovating the process of information-gathering across the world.

In 2018 the group piloted research in Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Nepal, and Vietnam and in 2019 brought their preliminary findings to the LabStorm table to get feedback from 15 mission-driven professionals. The Labstorm was electric with critical thinking at its best.

We’ve learned from folks like William Easterly (who appeared at Feedback Lab’s 2019 Summit), and Henry Mintzberg, that international development becomes problematic when we rely on outside-in approaches. So during the LabStorm, we asked ourselves, “How can we best involve the community to collect data, and infuse that data into future policy and planning?” Here is what the LabStorm group came up with:

1. Engage with communities honestly. Building trust is a part of the data collection process. When it comes to sharing data and information, people feel more comfortable when they understand the intentions of an interviewer/data collector and what will be done with their responses.

2. Strengthen the local data collection team to own the data. Data-collection initiatives should prioritize not only collecting data from marginalized communities, but also sharing that data back to communities. When a community owns the data that was collected it can be accessed for years to come, and used to support other initiatives.

3. Adjust to the local context. Can you use SMS or IVR to collect data in this community? Is this community prepared to answer surveys through an app? Can the community members read my survey? These are the types of questions that data-collection initiatives are often stumped by. The simple answer is that there is no “one size fits all” method for collecting data in developing countries.

Read the full article about data for the SDGs by Emily Castro at FeedbackLabs.