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Demographic Data for Development

Improving Use and Access

Solving the problem of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa is one of our most enduring development challenges. One particular problem is the lack of accessible demographic and economic data that could help policymakers determine how to best allocate scarce resources and assess whether their interventions are actually making a difference.

Despite worldwide efforts to improve statistical data, many challenges persist, particularly in much of sub-Saharan Africa. The Hewlett Foundation has begun an exploratory grantmaking effort to make demographic and economic data more accessible to researchers, and to ensure that the information is effectively used by policymakers throughout the continent and globally.

Our long-term goal is to provide policymakers with essential analyses and expand knowledge about the lives of poor people in sub-Saharan Africa, especially the urban poor, and the best ways to improve their well-being. To do this, we will partner with ongoing efforts to expand data access and use, examine the role of promising technologies, and capitalize on the insights from country-level case studies to strengthen both national and regional data efforts.

Funders Commit to Data Sharing to Improve Public Health

Ensuring that data is widely available to the scientific community is important for promoting advances in public health. To that end, a group of major international funders of public health research—the Hewlett Foundation included—signed on to a joint statement in which they committed to encourage greater access to and use of the research data that they fund. For more information about the joint statement, please visit the Wellcome Trust's website here

In conjunction with the announcement of this funders' commitment, Wellcome Trust Director Mark Walport and Hewlett Foundation President Paul Brest co-authored an article published in The Lancet discussing the importance of data sharing among researchers, the obstacles to it, and the vision that underlies the joint statement. To read the article by Walport and Brest, please visit The Lancet's website here.

The Population Council's "Demographic Data for Development" Case Studies

With support from the Hewlett Foundation, the Population Council conducted four case studies that examined the demand for data in four sub-Saharan African countries, namely Ethiopia, Ghana, Senegal, and Uganda. This project focused on the views of policymakers, what data they use, what data they want but do not receive, and what they might use but do not request. Their case studies sought to understand how access to data might be improved. The project's objective was to create an intimate portrait of access and demand at the country level, and to determine whether policymakers are getting the data they need to develop sound policies.

An overview report of the project, as well as the individual case study reports, are available for download below.

Demographic Data for Development: Overview Report (PDF)

Demographic Data for Development: Ethiopia Report (PDF)

Demographic Data for Development: Ghana Report (PDF)

Demographic Data for Development: Senegal Report (PDF)

Demographic Data for Development: Uganda Report (PDF)


The Population Reference Bureau's "Demographic Data for Development Decisionmaking" Case Studies

With support from the Hewlett Foundation, the Population Reference Bureau conducted case studies in Ethiopia and Uganda to assess what data policymakers and journalists use, should use, and how to increase demand for such data in policymaking and reporting.

The full report is available for download here:

Demographic Data for Development Decisionmaking: Case Studies from Ethiopia and Uganda (PDF)


The Center for Global Development's "Getting Africa Counted" Report

Prepared by Rachel Nugent and Danielle Kuczynski of the Center for Global Development, this paper presents a roadmap of activities aimed at strengthening the collection and dissemination of demographic and related development data in Africa.

The full report is available for download here:

Getting Africa Counted (PDF)