This year, however, district-planning departments, in collaboration with the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) and UNFPA, decided to make a change.
In a new program aimed at improving the budgeting process, approximately 225 Ugandan officials from 15 pilot districts will use DevInfo as their common database system to report on nearly 400 development indicators in 2013. The change represents an improvement that promises to reduce administrative burdens and improve data-driven budgeting and planning for years to come.
As part of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) and the UNFPA Country Programme (CP) for Uganda, UNFPA is providing support to districts to streamline this process by decentralizing and standardizing data reporting.
UNFPA developed a set of core database system requirements, then tasked Dominic Kibuga, Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) IT specialist and project leader, with building a technology solution. Mr. Kibuga, who had participated in previous DevInfo training, immediately looked to DevInfo as a ready-made answer.
DevInfo has been specifically designed to address this type of challenge. It is distributed freely to all, has built-in international standards, allows standard on and offline data entry capability, and provides advanced data visualizations in a user-friendly design.
With DevInfo in their toolbox, Dominic and a team of UBOS DevInfo experts created a master template of core performance indicators already being produced by districts. The team then visited 15 districts to introduce the project to District Planning leadership and train members from each department responsible for reporting including the departments of Planning, Finance, Health, Education, and Natural Resources.
Officials are now equipped to report on two 6-month cycles by July 2013. In the process, they will save weeks of time and provide the foundation for rapid, data-based decisions, advocacy presentations, and progress reporting.
The history of DevInfo in Uganda is not new and represents a success story of capacity building for sustainability. UBOS has developed important capacity in the use of DevInfo, benefitting from advanced database trainings sponsored by UNICEF in previous years. Mr. Kibuga benefitted from UNSD-sponsored data exchange training and extensive, one-on-one support from the DevInfo Support Group. As a result, tens of thousands of dollars were saved in software development costs, capacity building expenses, and the facilitation of localized trainings.
Of course, there are still a number of challenges and the program will need to evaluate the effectiveness in these 15 districts after the pilot period but it seems that the tools, capacity, and the resolve to use data to make better decisions are now aligned in Uganda, which is very promising.
While dependency still plagues many development programs across Africa, Uganda now joins the ranks of countries across the globe leading their own way and reaping the social and economic dividends of development cooperation.
Data making a difference.
For more information, please contact Dominic Kibuga, IT Specialist, Uganda Bureau of Statistics, at email@example.com.