Since 1990 the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been publishing Human Development Reports at the global, regional and national levels, with the purpose of raising awareness about human development around the world. These independently-prepared reports place human development at the center of the national political agenda, and serve as a key policy tool to identify inequities, measure progress, and mobilize support for positive change.
In the course of gathering data for Uzbekistan’s upcoming National Human Development Report (NHDR), UNDP Uzbekistan officials were faced with the challenge of how to best organize and utilize the enormous amount of available, relevant data. According to Elena Danilova-Cross, former Human Development Coordinator and Project Manager, UNDP Uzbekistan, the agency opted to turn to DevInfo to help organize and store the voluminous data.
“As the report was planning to focus on sub-national disparities in the country and analyse trends from 2004 to 2010, UNDP collected data on over 1,100 indicators spanning 14 sectors of economy for past 12 years. DevInfo seemed to be optimal storage software, especially given that the Government of Uzbekistan had just launched its first national socio-economic database - UzbekInfo - in 2009, built on the DevInfo platform,” explains Danilova-Cross.
NHDR database: wide use
The resulting NHDR database has not only been used to generate maps for the forthcoming report, but it is also being widely used to foster greater awareness of human development in the country - thanks to the resourceful initiative of UNDP Uzbekistan. These innovative approaches have extended the value and function of the data.
UNDP officials integrated the NHDR database into its 2011 Summer School on Human Development curriculum. Conducted in three languages - Uzbek, Russian and English, the distance learning course helped to ground participants in topics such as social inclusion, MDGs, poverty eradication, good governance, regional planning, sustainable development, security, health, education and others. A key component of the course was instructing participants in the use of new tools for measuring human development, particularly the DevInfo NHDR database.
Promoting human development awareness in the academic sphere
The NHDR database is also being used by UNDP to help strengthen engagement of the country’s academic sphere in the national dialogue on human development. As an example, the agency is actively supporting the creation of a new textbook on human development. When published in 2012, the textbook – which features a large number of maps and graphs generated using DevInfo – will serve as an updated human development primer for the nation’s university students.
As another example, the agency responded positively to a request by the teaching cadre and students of the University of World Economy and Diplomacy under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to provide DevInfo database training to its students. Over the course of several sessions, students within the university’s Human Development Resource Center were taught not only how to search for and display data in DevInfo, but also how to build their own databases from raw socio-economic data.
According to former UNDP Uzbekistan consultant Akbar Abdurakhmanov, “These students were so empowered by their learning that they went on to successfully create a new DevInfo database for two recently published statistical handbooks. This new database was merged with the DevInfo NHDR database and is now available through the university’s Human Development Resource Center. Given its easy-to-learn interface, convenient access to data, and user-friendly mapping and graph features, DevInfo has become a valuable tool for students, faculty, and researchers alike.”
Adds Danilova-Cross, “As part of the Human Development course examination committee in 2011, I was pleasantly surprised to see DevInfo visualization tools embedded into the essays and diploma works of university students. This signals not only how usable the database is, but also how quickly students were able to apply received skills in their essential academic studies.”
With DevInfo supporting national efforts to increase awareness of human development metrics in Uzbekistan, the country can look forward to better engagement from more stakeholders in its continuous drive to promote human development for all.
Data making a difference.