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Last update: Jul 2011

UNICEF's role in MDG monitoring

UNICEF plays a key role in monitoring progress towards achieving the MDGs, particularly in the following areas:


  • Reporting on progress towards the MDGs

  • Participating in inter-agency monitoring and evaluation working groups

  • Supporting national data collection through MICS surveys

  • Maintaining global databases and preparing joint estimates of indicators

    Global reporting on progress towards the MDGs

    UNICEF has been increasingly involved in a number of activities assessing progress towards the MDGs. It has played a key role in preparing the United Nations Secretary General's (UNSG) mid-decade report, particularly on assessing progress on poverty (underweight prevalence), child mortality, immunization, maternal health, water and sanitation, malaria, and HIV/AIDS-related targets. More recently, UNICEF has cooperated with a number of agencies in preparing several detailed global progress reports on specific MDGs, including: Diarrhoea: Why children are still dying and what can be done;  Tracking progress on child and maternal nutrition: A survival and development priority; Children and AIDS: Fourth Stocktaking Report; Malaria and Children; World Malaria Report 2008; Meeting the MDG Drinking Water and Sanitation Target: A Mid-Term Assessment of Progress. In addition, UNICEF has produced a series of Progress for Children reports on: child survival; gender parity and primary education; immunization; nutrition; water and sanitation; and A World Fit for Children Statistical Review, launched in December 2007 during a UN General Assembly special session focusing on children.


    It should be noted that UNICEF has been identified as the lead agency for annual reporting in the UNSG report on progress for all of the health-related MDG indicators, together with the World Health Organization. These include child mortality, malaria, water and sanitation, maternal health, HIV and AIDS and child malnutrition.

    Inter-agency monitoring and evaluation working groups

    UNICEF has led or played a key role in various interagency monitoring and evaluation working groups formed around MDG monitoring. Their primary purpose is to harmonize monitoring and evaluation work within the UN system, to address specific technical and measurement issues and to build capacity at country level. UNICEF currently plays a central role in the following groups:


  • Child survival (Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group, Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation and Countdown to 2015 Technical Working Groups)

  • Immunization (Inter-agency Group for Immunization Estimation)

  • Maternal mortality (Interagency Group for Mortality Mortality Estimation and Trend Analysis and Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health)

  • Malaria (The Roll Back Malaria Partnership Monitoring & Evaluation Reference Group)

  • Water and sanitation (Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation)

  • HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS Monitoring and Evaluation Reference Group)

  • Nutrition (Ending Child Hunger Initiative, Strategic Information Group)


    Support for MDG data collection through MICS

    The data and analysis in The State of the World’s Children report and the Progress for Children report are based on the ongoing work of UNICEF and its partners to monitor global conditions for children and women. Before the mid-1990s, critical gaps in data hindered accurate and effective analysis of the situation of children and women. Only 38 developing countries, for example, had data on whether malnutrition rates among children were rising or falling – a basic indicator of child health and well-being. To help countries fill these critical data gaps and to enable monitoring of the 1990 World Summit for Children goals, UNICEF initiated the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) in 1995. MICS are designed to provide quantitative data on a wide range of topics, including child health and nutrition, child protection, education, child development, maternal health, and HIV and AIDS.


    Since the mid-1990s, the MICS has enabled many countries to produce statistically sound and internationally comparable estimates of a range of indicators in the areas of health, education, child protection and HIV/AIDS. MICS findings have been used extensively as a basis for policy decisions and programme interventions, and for the purpose of influencing public opinion on the situation of children and women around the world.


    MICS4 surveys are carried out during 2009-2011, and results will become available from 2010 onwards. MICS4 data will allow countries to better monitor progress toward national goals and global commitments, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as the target year 2015 approaches.


    Together with the USAID-supported Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), with which the data are harmonized, MICS is one of the largest single sources of MDG information. Data collected through the latest round of MICS allow for new and more comprehensive assessments of the conditions under which children and women are living.


    Maintaining global databases and preparing joint estimates

    UNICEF maintains a series of databases, several of which focus on MDG indicators, for tracking the situation of children and women. These global databases include only statistically sound and nationally representative data from household surveys and other sources. UNICEF’s databases are updated annually through a process that draws on the wealth of data maintained by UNICEF’s wide network.


    In addition, over the past few years, UNICEF participated in reviews of MDG indicators to improve and better document how indicators are compiled and analyzed, to improve comparability and to add additional indicators when necessary. The UN Statistics Division, which is part of the Interagency Expert Group on MDG Indicators (IAEG), coordinated the process.