KHARTOUM, November 14, 2016— The World Bank and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) successfully concluded today Phase I of the Sudan Evidence Base Program, Sudan’s first data literacy initiative.
More than 150 representatives from the Sudanese government, academia, civil society, and the media gathered to celebrate and reflect on the impact of the Sudan Evidence Base Program and to explore next steps. The Program, which ran for nine months, was an extended, collaborative initiative involving the World Bank, DFID, and Sudan’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning. The objective of the program was to bridge important data gaps and inform better decision-making in Sudan through building the statistical and data literacy of more than 100 government and non-government participants.
“Innovation has been a key component in the design and implementation of the Evidence Base Program,” said Craig Hammer, World Bank Task Team Leader of the program. “The program included a strong, multi-stakeholder ‘demand-side data literacy’ component to help close Sudan’s data engagement gap, and to help expand the use and re-use of data dramatically. Sudan’s ‘demand-side’ has great potential to enable more systematic and better quality local and national government decisions, through conducting their own analyses, investigations, and generating recommendations to overcome persistent development challenges”
The Program is unique in its inclusion of a wide range of stakeholders including the Central Bureau of Statistics, the Central Bank of Sudan, 11 line Ministries, as well as representatives from civil society organizations, media, academia, and the private sector. The Evidence Base Program emphasized tools for inclusive, data-driven government policy-making while demystifying complex data on key issues to enable a broad public understanding of decision-making processes.
By bringing together a diverse platform of data generators and consumers, the Evidence Base Program served as a mechanism for dialogue between key stakeholders on shared development priorities. The Program’s free, reusable learning materials, such as Arabic-language e-learning modules using Sudanese data, customized exercises, and detailed lecture notes, ensures access to data literacy for all interested Sudanese.
“At the foundation of better policy is better quality data”, said Xavier Furtado, World Bank Country Representative to Sudan. “At the World Bank, we believe in the importance of ensuring that all stakeholders have access to better quality data so as to improve evidence-based planning and strategy. We would like to thank DFID and the Ministry of Finance for their collaboration and we look forward to seeing the impact of this Program in the near future.”
To help ensure sustainability, the program pursued close partnerships with six universities across Sudan, which embedded the learning material into their undergraduate and graduate courses. Academics from each university have also been selected for the nine-month Michael Bauer Memorial Teaching Fellowship, which provided intensive statistics and data literacy training to each professor or lecturer, enabling them to carry the program forward.
Christopher Pycroft, Head of DFID Sudan said “The Evidence Base Program is a product of a close collaboration by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, the World Bank Group, and DFID. Working closely with our partners, the programme aims to use evidence to inform better policy and decision making by the government and non-government organisations in Sudan. Basing decisions on quality data is important to make sure that Sudan’s scarce resources benefit all in Sudan.”
Building on the success of Phase I of the Program, the second phase will continue to provide an exclusive platform to develop partnerships, build networks, exchange ideas, and share experiences with Sudanese local institutions. The Evidence Base Program, in its second phase, will focus on connecting data-literate users in government and non-government spheres to encourage data ownership and use by government decision-makers, mass media, community groups, NGOs, professional associations, and universities. In the long run, the program is expected to achieve higher results that may include commensurately prevalent data-driven decision-making by the government, non-government actors, and the public. The incidental and long-term effect of the program aims to strengthen government accountability to citizens and improvements in public service delivery.