Data is not terribly sexy, but it is important to understanding the world, the existing challenges and ways to address them. UNICEF, like PSI, strongly believes in the power of data. The UN’s children organization just published its annual State of the World’s Children report and it is full of valuable data.
“Data have made it possible to save and improve the lives of millions of children, especially the most deprived,” said Tessa Wardlaw, Chief of UNICEF’s Data and Analytics Section. “Further progress can only be made if we know which children are the most neglected, where girls and boys are out of school, where disease is rampant or where basic sanitation is lacking.”
This year’s report finds that more effort and innovation is needed to support the world’s 2.2 billion children, especially the most disadvantaged. There are some truly encouraging numbers shared by UNICEF:
- Some 90 million children who would have died before reaching the age of 5 if child mortality rates had stuck at their 1990 level have, instead, lived. In large measure, this is because of progress in delivering immunizations, health, and water and sanitation services.
- Improvements in nutrition have led to a 37 per cent drop in stunting since 1990.
- Primary school enrolment has increased, even in the least developed countries: Whereas in 1990 only 53 in 100 children in those countries gained school admission, by 2011 the number had improved to 81 in 100.
There are also some serious concerns:
- Some 6.6 million children under 5 years of age died in 2012, mostly from preventable causes, in violation of their fundamental right to survive and develop.
- Eleven per cent of girls are married before they turn 15, jeopardizing their rights to health, education and protection.
- The world’s poorest children are 2.7 times less likely than the richest ones to have a skilled attendant at their birth, leaving them and their mothers at increased risk of birth-related complications.
One of the greatest challenges is simply having the right information on children. For example, only 4% of the poorest Tanzanians are registered at birth. Compared to the fact that 56% of the richest babies are registered, the fact shows how far behind the poor are and how much improvement is needed overall.
“Overcoming exclusion begins with inclusive data. To improve the reach, availability and reliability of data on the deprivations with which children and their families contend, the tools of collection and analysis are constantly being modified – and new ones are being developed. This will require sustained investment and commitment,” says the report.
For a more interactive version of the report, check it out here.