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UNICEF is committed to changing the world for children. It strives to protect their rights, improve their health, and nurture their development. This requires action that is guided by quality information.

UNICEF measures the situation of children and women and tracks progress through data collection and analysis. It maintains and updates global databases and promotes dissemination of evidence-based data for planning and advocacy. UNICEF is the lead United Nations (UN) agency responsible for the global monitoring of the child-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Supporting Data Collection

UNICEF assists countries in the collection of data through Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS), the international household survey programme it developed following the 1990 World Summit for Children. Since 1995, nearly 200 MICS have been implemented in approximately 100 countries. The latest round alone is generating data representative of close to one in four children living in developing countries. MICS provides statistically sound, internationally comparable estimates of indicators on:

child survival and development
education and gender equality
child protection
serves as a major source of data for monitoring national and international development goals and commitments.

Leading Data Analysis

UNICEF has done extensive work in developing new methodologies for tracking estimates on low birthweight, antenatal care, vitamin A deficiency, pneumonia, malaria, iodine deficiency disorder, female genital cutting, and many other priority issues.

UNICEF also maintains a series of global databases on key indicators. This effort involves a rigorous and ongoing process to ensure data quality. The databases, updated annually with the assistance of UNICEF’s vast network of 140 field offices, are found in this website.

By leading and playing an active role in interagency monitoring groups, UNICEF contributes to the development of indicators and monitoring tools on topics such as water and sanitation, AIDS, child and maternal mortality, and immunization. UNICEF produces joint estimates with its partners and works to harmonize global monitoring efforts.

Building Local Statistical Capacity

Through its MICS programme, UNICEF provides in-country technical assistance and leadership to local researchers and organizations and contributes to the improvement of national monitoring systems for children and women.

UNICEF also conducts a series of regional workshops on specialized topics in conjunction with its government counterparts to enhance their capacity to understand, interpret, analyse, disseminate, and use statistics on children and women. The goals of these workshops include supporting further analysis of malaria data for improved program monitoring and policy formulation in malaria-endemic regions, harmonizing the methodologies used to derive estimates on access to water and sanitation, and improving AIDS and child or maternal mortality coverage estimates.

Enhancing Data Dissemination

UNICEF data is used for a variety of planning and monitoring purposes. They appear in UNICEF flagship publications such as The State of the World’s Children and Progress for Children. UNICEF data are presented in a number of sector-specific reports including Countdown to 2015; Malaria and Children; and Pneumonia: The Forgotten Killer of Children. They are also used for evidence-based policy analysis such as in the ongoing Global Study on Child Poverty and Disparities being carried out in 50 countries and seven regions through UNICEF support (http://www.unicefglobalstudy.blogspot.com/)

Researchers, program managers, and legislators worldwide count extensively on UNICEF data to assess the situation of women and children, and to implement programmes and plan policies on their behalf. The media, both locally and internationally, use the data to write stories stressing the unique situation of children and women.

UNICEF also promotes data dissemination through DevInfo, a powerful database system that tracks progress towards the MDGs and monitors commitments to sustained human development. DevInfo offers an easy-to-use structure that quickly generates tables, graphs, and maps, even for trend data. It is an excellent advocacy and planning tool for national statistics offices, UN agencies, donors, and civil society, contributing to greater MDG awareness and knowledge at the country level and to evidence-based policy-making. The software can be downloaded at http://www.devinfo.org/

Monitoring the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

In 2000, the largest gathering of world leaders in history adopted the UN Millennium Declaration. The leaders committed their nations to a series of goals with a deadline of 2015 that emanated from the Declaration. From halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV and providing universal primary education, the MDGs are designed to meet the needs of the world’s poorest.

UNICEF is one of the leading UN agencies monitoring the MDGs, working closely with Interagency MDG Monitoring Groups to ensure the harmonization of indicators. Almost half of the MDG indicators are collected through the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) programme—such as those related to reducing child mortality; combating HIV, malaria, and other diseases; or improving maternal health—in around 60 countries. UNICEF also compiles MDG-related data from multiple sources, analyzes them and produces MDG country profiles that are available in this site.

UNICEF has also supported the development of MDGInfo, an adaptation of DevInfo, a database system designed for the compilation, dissemination, and presentation of development indicators to support governments in their MDG monitoring.