The World Bank has called for strengthened national data systems in low-income countries as a means to realising the full potential of the data revolution to better the lives of poor people.
According to the global institution, ‘from information gathered in household surveys to pixels captured by satellite images, data can inform policies and spur economic activity, serving as a powerful weapon in the fight against poverty.’
The Bank noted that more data is available today than ever before, yet its value is largely untapped.
The recommendation was contained in the just published “World Development Report 2021: Data for Better Lives”. The report says that ‘data is also a double-edged sword, requiring a social contract that builds trust by protecting people against misuse and harm, and work toward equal access and representation.’
According to World Bank Group President David Malpass, ‘data offer tremendous potential to create value by improving programme and policies, driving economies, and empowering citizens. The perspective of poor people has largely been absent from the global debate on data governance and urgently needs to be heard.
‘Lower-income countries are too often disadvantaged due to a lack of institutions, decision-making autonomy, and financial resources, all of which hold back their effective implementation and effectiveness of data systems and governance frameworks. International cooperation is needed to harmonise regulations and coordinate policies so that the value of data is harnessed to benefit all, and to inform efforts toward a green, resilient and inclusive recovery,’ he said.