UNICEF report: Over half a billion ‘uncounted’ children live in countries unable to measure SDG progress

Latest data on development progress for children shows over half a billion more live in countries where the SDGs are quickly falling out of reach.

16 March 2018

Early assessment of progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals confirms an alarming lack of data in 64 countries, as well as insufficient progress toward the SDGs for another 37 countries where the data can be tracked.  

The UNICEF global report, Progress for Children in the SDG Era, is the first thematic report assessing performance toward achieving the SDG global targets that concern children and young people. The report warns that 520 million children live in countries which completely lack data on at least two-thirds of child-related SDG indicators, or lack sufficient data to assess their progress – rendering those children effectively “uncounted.”

“More than half the world’s children live in countries where we either can’t track their SDG progress, or where we can and they are woefully off-track,” said Laurence Chandy, UNICEF Director for the Division of Data, Research and Policy. “The world must renew its commitment to attaining the SDGs, starting with renewing its commitment to measuring them.”

Where sufficient data is available, the report tracks progress on five dimensions of children’s rights: health, learning, protection from violence and exploitation, a safe environment and equal opportunity. The report quantifies how far short of the global goals the world is currently expected to fall, measured in human costs.

Projections show that between now and 2030:

  • 10 million additional children would die of preventable causes before their fifth birthday;
  • 31 million children would be left stunted due to lack of adequate nutrition;
  • 22 million children would miss out on pre-primary education;
  • 150 million girls will marry before their 18th birthday;
  • 670 million people, many of them children, will still be without basic drinking water.

The report calls for renewed efforts to address the global data-deficiency, while recognizing that strong national data institutions and capacity takes time and investment to develop. The report identifies three principles to underpin this work:

  • Building strong measurement into service delivery systems, whether in health or education, social services or border control;
  • Systematic and coordinated efforts to ensure all countries have minimum data coverage for children, irrespective of their resources and capabilities;
  • Establishing stronger shared norms on data concerning children, measuring emerging threats facing children, capturing missing child populations, and sharing data to enable vulnerable children to be more effectively identified, while protecting children’s privacy.

While each government is ultimately accountable to generate the data that will guide and measure achievement of the goals, the international community has an obligation to amplify global partnerships with governments to help achieve SDG targets.

The launch of the global report coincides with UNICEF Turkmenistan’s Report on Baseline Assessment for Child-related SDG Indicators, an exercise conducted by the country office in close consultations with the State Statistics Committee of Turkmenistan and other relevant ministries and stakeholders. It is the first attempt of the country to consider availability, recentness and disaggregation of data for 55 child-related SDG indicators.

“Turkmenistan is one of the first countries globally to adapt and adopt SDGs and establish an institutional mechanism for monitoring SDG indicators,” said Ms. Shaheen Nilofer, UNICEF Representative in Turkmenistan.

“We commend the Government for putting systems in place   and political will to invest in generation and analysis of data to track progress related to children. Most SDGs can be fully achieved only if the specific needs of children are monitored and addressed throughout the course of the 2030 Agenda. The baseline assessment, therefore, did not only establish baselines at the national level, when data are available, but is a call for accelerated efforts and action to ensure no child is left behind,” said Ms. Shaheen Nilofer.

The report concludes that out of 55 child-related indicators, there are some baseline data available for about 40 indicators. It also identifies priorities and next steps for enhancing the collection, analysis and use of data, very much in line with the global progress measurement principles.

Media contacts

Gulyalek Soltanova
Communication Officer
UNICEF in Turkmenistan
Tel: +993 12 488355
Tel: +993 65 716045


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