Development data: how accurate are the figures?

Claire Melamed, from the Overseas Development Institute, has written a post on the Data Revolution in The Guardian, extracts from which you can read below.

“You know a lot less than you think you do. Around 1.22 billion people live on less than a $1.25 (75p) day? Maybe, maybe not. Malaria deaths fell by 49% in Africa between 2000 and 2013? Perhaps. Maternal mortality in Africa fell from 740 deaths per 100,000 births in 2000 to 500 per 100,000 in 2010? Um … we’re not sure.

These numbers, along with most of what we think of as facts in development, are actually estimates. We have actual numbers on maternal mortality for just 16% of all births, and on malaria for about 15% of all deaths. For six countries in Africa, there is basically no information at all.

In the absence of robust official systems for registering births and deaths, collecting health or demographic data, or the many other things that are known by governments about people in richer countries, the household survey is the foundation on which most development data is built.”

Click here to read the full post.

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