DevInfo Support Group (DSG): When was DevInfo introduced in the Dominican Republic?
Nelson Medina (NM): In 2004, DevInfo was introduced as “InfoDom” in the Dominican Republic as a tool to strengthen national capacity in monitoring UNICEF’s Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
In the following year, we supported the National Statistics Office (ONE) in customizing the look and feel of the adaptation, translating the user guide, and hiring a consultant to create a national statistical database with the latest available data and sub-national maps. We also conducted various meetings among national and local government officials to promote awareness of the DevInfo tool.
DSG: We’ve heard that the Dominican Republic has organized numerous DevInfo training events over the years. Is this true?
NM: Yes! We have indeed made training a key focus of our DevInfo initiatives. Since 2004 we have conducted nine training sessions aimed at government counterparts, civil society, and international development agencies.
For example, we conducted one training workshop for staff associated with the Municipal Office of Information and Statistics and the International Association of Students in Economics. We held another workshop for staff working with the Unit for Social and Economic Analysis of the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development and the Social Cabinet of the Presidency of the Republic.
Another training workshop we conducted was aimed at staff of the Ministry of Health, the National Police, the Judiciary, the Attorney Generals office and the Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS. The list goes on!
Ourmost recent training event – focusing on DevInfo 6.0 – was held in June 2011 for staff of the National Council for Children and Adolescents, ONE, and the Dominican Telecommunications Institute.
DSG: Very impressive indeed.
NM: I should mention that we have been assisted greatly byDevInfoLAC, a Panama-based DevInfo technical support group for the Latin America and Caribbean region. We have sent staff from both the UN system as well as from ONE to DevInfoLAC for training.
DSG: Having conducted all these training events over a seven-year period, have you seen a significant increase in the use of the DevInfo tool in the Dominican Republic?
As another example from the same training, staff from the Dominican Telecommunications Institute (INDOTEL) created a preliminary database to assist in the management of their statistical data. We continue to support their database development efforts, with the goal of making this data available soon on the web.
DSG: Has an official country adaptation been launched yet?
NM: UNICEF has supported ONE in the creation of a national database - InfoDom – using data from the 2002 Population and Housing Census
and the 2005 National Household Survey. The database has not yet been made public, because the National Statistics Office plans to update it in 2012 with data from the 2010 Population and Housing Census.
But it’s important to note that in our country, several other agencies have picked up DevInfo and run with it. For example, the National Council for Children and Adolescents (CONANI) with UNICEF support has developed a database called SIPRONNHAI. The purpose of SIPRONNHAI is to help CONANI monitor the situation of Haitian children living in the Dominican Republic who were displaced as a result of the 2010 Haitian earthquake.
CONANI is also developing with UNICEF support a database bringing together all relevant statistics on children, adolescents and women in the Dominican Republic. Called CONANI Info, this database is scheduled to be launched in November 2011, on the anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child.
Data is being sourced from censuses, surveys, administrative records and specialized research When complete, CONANI Info will facilitate access to statistical information on children, to support policy decision-making related to children and adolescents.
NM: As a matter of fact, yes. In 2004, the year that DevInfo was introduced to the Dominican Republic, UNICEF initiated a dialogue with five key organizations - ONE, the European Union-supported Program of Support for Reform and Modernization of the State (PARME), the National Council for State Reform, the Dominican Municipal League, and the Dominican Federation of Municipalities - on the subject of promoting the creation of Municipal Statistics Units (EMUs) across the country.
The vision was that through the EMUs, we could develop local capacity to monitor social indicators, primarily related to compliance with the CRC and the MDGs. The EMUs would use DevInfo as the main monitoring tool, supported by technical assistance from UNICEF.
NM: We initially helped create EMUs in eleven local governments across the country. PARME and UNICEF donated computer equipment and supported technical training in DevInfo for designated municipal staff. However, this project stalled when a change in municipal authorities occurred in 2006.
NM: Fortunately, no. UNICEF was able to develop a new partnership with the International Association of Students in Economics (AISEC), through which AISEC sent several of its members to serve as volunteers in the EMUs. One of the tasks assigned to these volunteers was to promote DevInfo in each municipality. Thanks to this contribution, the municipalities of Mao Guaymate, La Romana and La Vega were eventually able to produce their municipal statistical bulletins using DevInfo.
One final question: aside from UNICEF efforts to promote DevInfo, what are the keys to successful implementation of DevInfo at the country level, based on your experience?
NM: Two key words: empowerment and sustainability. It is necessary to ensure that a government agency takes the lead in promoting the use of DevInfo in the country, which will facilitate coordination with different government sectors, both at the central and local levels. Once you have empowered a governmental institution, then sustainability will be ensured.
Data making a difference.
For more information, please contact Nelson Medina, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, UNICEF Dominican Republic, email@example.com.