The children at greatest risk of being left behind
The SDGs’ guiding principle to leave no one behind demands a look beyond national averages to see which children and communities are missing out, and why. But data quality and collection practices are often not up to the task. Internationally comparable, disaggregated data are available for relatively few indicators – especially in some areas, such as for learning.
Existing disaggregated data reveal stark inequities related to household wealth, urban or rural residence, or gender. Other relevant stratifiers, such as ethnicity, disability or migration status, are not captured here given data limitations. And there are very limited data on some of the world’s most vulnerable children – like those living in institutions or on the streets – as they may not be captured in household surveys.
How to read the dials
Universal agenda, universal challenge
Progress for Every Child in the SDG Era reveals the magnitude – and the urgency – of the challenge: On average, 75-80 per cent of child-relevant indicators in each country either have insufficient data or show insufficient progress to meet global SDG targets by 2030.
Data from many developing countries are unavailable for different reasons. In some cases, countries are constrained in their data collection efforts by capacity or other technical challenges. But whatever the reason, a paucity of data about the situation of children will also constrain countries in their efforts to achieve the SDGs. And if incomplete data mask poor performance, the challenge is even greater than it appears.
To change the situation of children, count them
There is much talk among the global development community of a data revolution already in the making that can enable transformational change for the world’s most disadvantaged and vulnerable people. But the data in our report tell a different story: The gaps in our knowledge are vast, and progress is too slow to achieve the SDGs. And despite the aspirations of Agenda 2030, at this stage, a great many children are being left behind.
We know that progress is possible on data. Some countries, regions and sectors have shot ahead, advancing new data initiatives that make the most of often limited resources. These positive outliers demonstrate that much can be done to remedy the data deficiencies that keep the most vulnerable children invisible and unreached. We identify four common factors that lie behind these successes:
- Global leadership
- Regional cooperation
- Technological innovation
Practical principles to strengthen data for children
These four examples show that progress can be made – and made rapidly – to collect and use SDG data in support of children. Governments are ultimately accountable to generate the data that will guide and measure achievement of the 2030 Goals. But their partners in the international community have an obligation to support their efforts drawing on their individual strengths. This is the basis for SDG 17, which calls for a revitalized global partnership for sustainable development, including to develop countries’ statistical capabilities.
This is the basis for SDG 17, which calls for a revitalized global partnership for sustainable development, including to develop countries’ statistical capabilities.We identify three principles that should underpin this effort and that will guide UNICEF’s work over the next 12 years:
- Data as the spine of system strengthening
- Leave no country behind
- Shared norms beginning with open data
In addition to analysing all countries together in each thematic chapter, this report is accompanied by a collection of 202 country profiles. Each profile provides a stocktaking of the country’s performance against the 44 child-related SDG indicators.
COUNTRY PROFILES DASHBOARD METHODOLOGY NOTE