Harnessing the power of data for decision-making

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one-1911The year 2015 was a crucial time for Viet Nam as the country developed the socio-economic development plan for the next five years, reported on final MDG achievements and prepared to make the transition to the SDGs.

Although the Government of Viet Nam continues to emphasize the importance of evidence-based policy development and implementation there are growing concerns about the quality, availability and accessibility of disaggregated data.

In spite of the country's comprehensive legal system and socio-economic development progress, Government capacity in evidence-based and people centric policy and programme development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation remains limited.

Data on population dynamics and on the situation of vulnerable population groups, for example older people, young people, children and women disaggregated by ethnicity, disability status, health status, education status, and poverty level are not always available or sufficient. This hinders policy development, planning as well as reporting on MDG achievements and is a major hindrance as the Viet Nam prepares to implement the SDGs.

In the context of continued rapid socio-economic change large sections of the population become increasingly vulnerable. Inclusive policies must be informed with reliable and up-to-date data and evidence. Only if the right policies are in place can the negative impacts of changing population dynamics and emerging challenges be minimized for the most vulnerable groups.

To ensure the availability of quality data and evidence on the situation of vulnerable population groups for inclusive policy development, monitoring and evaluation, the UN has been advocating for evidence-based policy and providing technical support to the General Statistics Office (GSO). Research institutions are involved in producing new data and evidence on emerging population issues, especially situation of vulnerable groups such as children, young people, older people and women through conducting Inter-Censal on Population and Housing Survey (IPS), Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), national and provincial situation analyses on children, and in-depth analysis and research focusing on thematic issues emerging from the data collected.

As a result of close collaboration between the UN and Government there is growing recognition of the importance of data and evidence for development.

"Data from population surveys show the linkages between population and development as well as with other issues related to poverty, patterns of consumption and inequity. Data from the surveys reveal that Viet Nam has been under the period of "population bonus". At the same time, it has also faced various population-related issues, such as a high imbalance of sex ratio at birth, aging population, and so on. As people are the centre of development, their rights, needs and well-being should be at the centre of the country's policies, strategies and development plans. Therefore, it is essential to integrate population variables in all sectoral development plans, be it on education, health, employment, infrastructure, economic reforms, social security and protection. In addition, more attentions should be paid to the continuously increasing issues of inequity and disparities, which are accompanied by new forms of poverty and vulnerability," said GSO Deputy Director Mr. Nguyen Van Lieu.

With increased UN and Government efforts to make data available, the emerging population issues, challenges of the well-being and equity among children have been shared and discussed at many policy forums, policy advocacy workshops, and consultation meetings on SEDP development, hence considerable attention by policy-makers. As a result, key issues of equity, inclusiveness and quality of life such as improved family planning work, reduction of imbalance of sex ratio at birth, and life expectancy at birth, among others, are of focus in the next SEDP, period 2016-2020 with inclusion of child-sensitive indicators.

In reflecting its commitment towards SDGs, the Government adopted the Statistics Law for the first time incorporating the statistical indicator system with a view to monitoring and evaluating the SDGs, including key equity indicators on child well-being such as child and infant mortality rate, birth registration and under-nutrition.