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Don identify city-level data as catalyst for sustainable development goals

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A senior lecturer at the Department of Geography and Planning, University of Lagos, Dr. Peter Elias, has said that credible and transparent data could reduce poverty and improve living standards of Nigerians, especially people living in slums.

Speaking at a one day virtual Technical Validation workshop, held simultaneously in Lagos, Nigeria and Accra, Ghana at the weekend, stressed that there is need for the promotion of multi-stakeholder engagement and inclusive urban data governance for monitoring and tracking SDG 11 which focuses on making cities and communities safe, inclusive, resilient and sustainable.

With the theme: “Standardizing Sustainable Development for Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 11 in Africa” (SCiLeD), he also canvassed disaggregation of data at the community- level for addressing the complex urban challenges.

In his message, Director, Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies (IESS), University of Ghana, Legon, Prof. Kwasi Appeaning Addo, stated that sustainable development goal 11 can only be achieved when we have standardized and harmonized reliable data which can facilitate effective management of our cities.

On the same note, the Director, Institute of Applied Science and Technology, University of Ghana, Prof. George Oduro Nkasa, was happy that the objectives of the SCiLeD project has been achieved in bringing together key stakeholders including the fringe urban dwellers who bear the brunt of the vagaries of the cities to co-produce useful, accurate and reliable data. The Head of Ghana Statistical Service in his goodwill message advocated for the inclusion of open data for the achievement of SDG 11.

Similarly, Associate Director, Science Applications Division , CIESIN, New York, Dr Alex de Sherbinin, who spoke on ‘Data for SDGs in Africa: The role of citizen generated data” noted that we must foster and promote innovation to fill data gaps through new technologies which offer opportunities to improve data; experiment with ways whereby traditional and new data sources can be brought together for better and faster data on SDGs.

On his part, Director, Institute of Global Sustainable Development, University of Warwick, UK, Prof. Joao Porto de Albuquerque, identified the challenges of participatory process of integrating urban data.

He identified the twin problem of information overload – high-volume data streams, unstructured data, etc. and information dearth – lack of spatial and temporal coverage and low integration into decision making processes and tools.

He concluded that social and spatial inequalities are strongly associated with data inequalities especially when tracking and monitoring the SDG 11.

On the essence of organizing the programme, Dr. Elias said ‘we are providing a platform where civil societies, government and those in the academia can produce, share and, use data which incorporate multiple perspectives, reliability, social learning and empowerment.’

According to him, we have got additional funding to extend this study on how we can develop framework for data governance to achieve sustainable urban development in Africa. We want to have a seamless approach on co-producing, co-designing and co-creating knowledge in such a way that there is transparency, openness, ownership and there is commitment from all players.


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