Data for Better Lives Through the Lens of a Developing Country: Uganda
From this course, I have taken keen interest to learnt the need for engaging people who have been
left out when it comes to the use and dynamics of data in the 21st
century more so in many
developing countries like Uganda. Therefore, I have coined my assignment to try and align with
what I have learnt from the course to enlighten policymakers about the unprecedented growth of
data, their ubiquity and the need to change life across the globe.
What is data?Data is a challenging concept to define. It has signified various things at various
times and in various fields.
Following the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) data can be
defined broadly as “characteristics or information, usually numerical, that are collected through
observation.” More specifically, data are “the physical representation of information in
Is there a need for citizens and decision makers in Uganda to take on data driven decision
In the words of Daniel Keys Moran, “You can have data without information, but you cannot have
information without data”. There is need for any economy to use data in its course of development.
Data driven decision making comes with very many advantage that foster growth.
Taking a classical example of the Indian state of Odisha following a previous natural disaster, they
were able to reuse/repurpose data of the floods to save millions of lives.
It should be acknowledged that there exists limited use and appreciation of statistics for policy
design and formulation among some senior leadership and this is likely to trickle down the entire
sector if the top officials don’t appreciate data-based decision making.
In the rapidly developing world, reliance on data is critical based on the global challenges like
covid 19. Many vital services such as education, welfare, health and livelihood are dependent on
data or current prevailing information for informed decision making.
Uganda updated its regulations to enable government officials to use data as a tool for policy
development in the country's sectors, even though policies for data sharing and reuse have yet to
be fully defined. This will provide a road map for the use and repurposing of data in the course of
decision making, especially in the rural regions.
The outcome or potential from the use of data for informed decision-making is one that is
inexhaustible or nonrival because data can be used for infinite purposes by different stakeholders.
The need for data to foster development in a developing economy can be witnessed in the three
pathways which capture all the different stakeholders within an economy to include private
players, governments and civil society.
Lessons for decision-makers and citizens in Uganda
First, data-driven decision-making must become part of public sector senior leadership preparation
and training. They must receive systematic training in how to use data, preferably beginning in
their preservice years but continuing throughout their careers.
Institutions of education are the appropriate venue in which the needed educational experiences
must occur. Uganda must find ways to integrate data-driven practices and principles into the
training of all countrymen since we are in an era of data.
To summarize, research is needed to address gaps in the scientific knowledge base in order to
enable stakeholders and senior leadership to comprehend the changes that must occur, particularly
for senior decision-makers, in order for data-based decision-making to occur. Second,
representatives, senior officials, and decision-makers must convene to discuss and hash out the
action measures required to guarantee that they fulfill global data-driven decision-making
requirements and do not fall behind in meeting global development goals.
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