Subscribe to the Healthy DEvelopments Newsletter

Data collection and use

Reliable demographic data are essential for policy planning and for measuring development progress. German development cooperation supports partner countries in establishing well-functioning institutions for routine data collection and analysis and in developing the necessary digital infrastructure.

To make differentiated and forward-looking decisions, policy-makers and administrations require demographic data disaggregated by age, sex, place of residence and marital status, in addition to income, ethnicity, level of education, disability and other relevant variables. Once collected, the data need to be compiled, processed and analysed, including projections of future population trends and presentations for decision-makers and the general public.

For low- and middle-income countries, effective mastery of population data for planning and policy-making is often a challenge. In many countries a major barrier to compiling, storing and processing population data is an inadequate, often paper-based information infrastructure. The systems for data collection and analysis are incomplete and the data collected by various authorities are not sufficiently coordinated, digitally recorded or processed. As a consequence, political bodies which depend on reliable disaggregated data – from national institutions such as population councils or planning ministries down to decentralised decision-makers and local administrations, as well as development cooperation actors – cannot extract the information and insights they need from these data to take adequate account of demographic developments such as population growth or changing age structures.

However, high-quality data alone are not a sufficient basis for demography-sensitive policy planning: Research and policy advisory institutions need to analyse and interpret these data for decision-makers in different sectors and at different levels of government, so that the implications of population dynamics are holistically integrated into planning and policy design.

How can German development cooperation support partner countries’ data collection and use?

Development organisations and governments around the world are calling for a data revolution based on digitalisation to ensure the rapid availability, greater reliability, and immediate accessibility of data for all who need them. German development cooperation is committed to supporting its partner countries in producing, interpreting and using reliable, high-quality population data. To this end, and in coordination with other development partners, it employs a broad range of approaches, ranging from targeted activities to address data gaps, support to national institutions in data collection, analysis and use, to investments in infrastructure and digitalisation.

In order to ensure effective planning and implementation of development measures, projects from different sectors can integrate activities to expand the demographic database and strengthen their partners’ capacities in the domain of population data. Working together with local or national statistics offices, municipal representatives and IT service providers (for databases, software and training), projects can strengthen existing national systems for collecting, analysing and using local data on population development and enrich them with newly acquired data.

What measures for data collection, analysis and use can support demography-sensitive planning of services and infrastructure?

Depending on the mandate and needs of the responsible advisory bodies or authorities, projects can provide support for organisational development; strengthening coordination between ministries, statistics authorities, research and policy advisory institutions and civil society; or data collection and processing. Another important area of support is promoting capacity development of different target groups on relevant socio-demographic issues, including the analysis, interpretation and use of data.

Changes in a population’s needs due to sometimes fast-paced demographic trends such as migration or change in age structure are strongly felt by local administrative entities such as municipalities, obliging them to adjust their offer of services and infrastructures. By providing financial and technical support for the set-up or expansion of population data infrastructure such as civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems (see this section of this portal for more details), German development cooperation strengthens the foundation for demography-sensitive planning of services and infrastructures.

For more information on approaches to strengthen data collection and use, step-by-step guides or financing options, please refer to Chapter 3 of the handbook.

Example from Myanmar: Implementation of the first census in 30 years

Through a grant to UNFPA, BMZ supported Myanmar’s Central Statistical Organisation in 2013 in carrying out the country’s first national census in 30 years. As in many other countries in South-East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, Myanmar does not have a functioning system for civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) and the registries of births, deaths, marriages and divorces are therefore incomplete. The census data provided the Government of Myanmar with comprehensive information about population trends, and served as a valuable data basis for planning national policies and monitoring development progress. Myanmar’s 2013 census also clearly showed, however, that a very sensitive approach needs to be taken when collecting and preparing disaggregated population data because these have the potential to exacerbate existing conflicts between ethnic groups.


© Photoshare/Anil Gulati
Scroll to Top