CAIRO: Three partner organizations celebrated the launch of a new database on Monday aimed at tracking Egypt s progress towards its development goals.
The arrival of EgyInfo 1.0 was welcomed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), and the Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC).
“Egypt has always been known for being ‘data rich and information poor,’ and today, with the launch of EgyInfo, three major organizations are cooperating to make Egypt ‘data rich and information rich.’ We hope that this is a step in the right direction towards development, said Maged Osman, chairman of the IDSC.
EgyInfo 1.0 is the Egyptian version of the United Nation’s DevInfo, a database used to monitor progress in the Millennium Development Goals, which include objectives such as halving extreme poverty, halting HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015.
“The customized Egyptian version of DevInfo is a major tool for development and an instrument to influence the policymaking process and also help civil society organizations, said Erma Manoncourt, UNICEF’s representative in Egypt.
EgyInfo will provide highly accessible, reliable and timely data that will be used as a framework for development and will precisely track progress in these areas.
“The result will be good governance, accountably, transparency, so that decision makers and policymakers would act consciously, said Manoncourt.
The database, which has royalty-free distribution, will be available to the public at no cost. “We will ensure that through EgyInfo, adequate information is available for advocacy as it will be an essential aspect in attaining the rights and benefits of mother and child and guide the country as a whole in hard decisions that need to be made, she said.
Manoncourt noted in her opening speech that there are some areas in Egypt, such as sanitation, were progress is being made. Other areas, like the environment, are experiencing slow progress while others still are experiencing no progress at all, namely education and poverty.
The EgyInfo database generates tables, graphs and maps for reports and presentations. In addition, it maintains indicators by time periods and geographic areas to monitor commitments to sustained human development.
The database will also monitor trends over time and produce progress reports.
“At EgyInfo, we have 174 indicators which will help monitor what we [Egypt] have achieved regarding development and the Millennium Development Goals, said Abou Bakr El Gendy, president of CAPMAS.
The team who worked on EgyInfo faced a number of challenges while preparing the database. These included “obtaining timely data from original sources, lack of data collected by primary sources and the lack of a full-time staff dedicated to this project, said Safwat Salah, head of the demographic center at CAPMAS.
DevInfo was first introduced in Egypt in 2004 through UNICEF Egypt in order to assist the member state in monitoring human development. In 2006, the database was transferred to CAPMAS and IDSC, with UNICEF’s support.
“The first step towards development is data collection, as it helps decision makers determine the areas which need improvement, said El-Gendy.
“We hope that the program satisfies researchers and decision makers because we made this program for them, he added.