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What Is Alternative Data and How Can It Help Efforts to Leave No One Behind?



The leave no one behind transformative promise aims to close the gap between the haves and the haves not. While previous agendas have made significant milestones in poverty reduction, those at the bottom still lag behind. This can be attributed to gaps in official data that fail to capture the actual situation on the ground. Therefore, the data doesn’t show the cause of marginalization and how they interact. The leave no one behind agenda focuses on using data from alternative sources to reduce the gaps. Here’s more on alternative data and how it helps in reducing marginalization.

What is Alternative Data?

As the name suggests, alternative data is data from alternative sources. The UN spearheads the efforts to eradicate poverty and has relied on its official statistics. However, this data has gaps frustrating the UN’s efforts to leave no one behind. Therefore, the UN has welcomed the move to use alternative data sources such as communities, governments, businesses, and civil society. This data is known as alternative data. Here are the most common types of alternative data and how they enhance the efforts to leave no one behind.

Administrative Data

Government agencies and non-governmental organizations collect this data. These organizations use it to analyze their services to better serve the marginalized population as their routine operations. Although its primary use isn’t statistical, the UN can turn it into data sets that complement the official data by filling specific gaps.

Human Rights Data

Human rights groups collect this data during their routine cases and legislative review. It helps identify areas where poverty and marginalization result from human rights violations such as racism or neglect by the administration. For instance, racism may hinder development in certain areas causing them to remain behind. Human rights organizations can capture scenarios better; hence the data is more reliable.  

Private Sector Data

Most private sector data comes from companies as part of their efforts to provide reports on environmental, social, and governance impacts. This data is crucial since it enables companies to determine their activities and employees affect marginalized populations. 

Geospatial Data

Geospatial data is all about location. Hence, it helps identify the specific areas where the marginalized populations live. It also helps identify geography, and other location-specific factors, such as climate, contribute to marginalization. In addition, this alternative data fills the gaps in data collection caused by challenges faced by marginalized groups. Such challenges include a lack of permanent residence, living in informal settlements, and fear of further marginalization.

Citizen Generated Data

Citizen-generated data is from concerned individuals who participate in data collection, giving them a right to decide on the use of the data. It’s a vital type of alternative data because it clearly indicates the cause of marginalization within groups and localities.

Alternative data is essential for leaving no one behind the agenda. It complements official data and fills the gaps that hinder proper poverty eradication. Stakeholders such as governments, communities, businesses, and non-government organizations should therefore avail their data to promote the agenda.