ESCWA Report Uses Microdata to Track Conflict’s Impacts on SDG Progress
story highlights

The report titled, 'The Sustainable Development Goals in an Arab Region Affected by Conflict,’ analyzes 47 indicators for 12 SDGs using microdata.

Among other findings, the region's expansion in educational attendance “has not been accompanied by equal improvements in educational quality,” meaning that schooling is not necessarily translating into learning.

The report calls for capacity building efforts to improve data availability and quality, and further investment in national statistical systems to collect, process and analyze data.

The UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) has released a report that uses microdata to measure SDG progress in countries touched by conflict in recent years, directly or indirectly. The report aims to inform the region’s progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The report titled, ‘The Sustainable Development Goals in an Arab Region Affected by Conflict: Monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals with Household Survey Microdata,’ analyzes 47 indicators for 12 SDGs using microdata from 2011-2014. The report explains that most countries in the Arab region regularly collect micro-level data that are “highly representative of national populations,” and such microdata measure the type of population characteristics required for SDG indicator disaggregation. The authors suggest leveraging this existing data to support SDG monitoring efforts.

On SDG 1 (no poverty) and SDG 10 (reduced inequalities), the report finds that acute multidimensional poverty exists in the region’s least developed countries (LDCs), including Sudan and Yemen, where approximately 50% of the population experiences multidimensional poverty. Sudan also exhibits a large urban-rural gap, with 70% of poverty concentrated in rural areas. Pockets of multidimensional poverty “remain across and within Arab countries,” with conflicts increasing potential poverty for large population groups within countries. The report calls for additional data collection initiatives across the region to generate consistent indicators for SDG 10 and enable comparison across countries.

Conflict intensification in Yemen and Iraq is causing a surge in stunting for children exposed to conflict.

On SDG 2 (zero hunger) and SDG 3 (good health and well-being), malnutrition is “still prevalent” in Arab countries. Although child mortality rates have declined in the region, nearly every country still exhibits large socioeconomic disparities in child health. Child malnutrition and food insecurity are highly correlated among crisis-affected countries in the region, and conflict and protracted crises are “a critical factor affecting children’s health and mortality.” Sudan and Yemen are most vulnerable to food insecurity, with mothers and children at increased risk of malnutrition and mortality. Stunting among children is also a challenge in the region, with 20-25% of children experiencing stunting in Iraq, Libya, and Syria, and 50% of children stunted in Yemen. The report also highlights large subnational disparities in Yemen and Egypt, and observes that conflict intensification in Yemen and Iraq is causing “a surge in stunting for children exposed to conflict,” leading to large regional inequalities. Obesity is a challenge for seven Arab countries, and female genital mutilation (FGM) is still common in several countries.

On SDG 4 (quality education), conflict has “directly disrupted the skill-formation process of many children” in region, resulting in disadvantages and inequalities. The report finds that the expansion in educational attendance “has not been accompanied by equal improvements in educational quality,” meaning that schooling is not necessarily translating into learning. The report concludes conflict has “reversed much of the gains in educational expansion at all levels” in countries across the region, and calls for large investments to restore access to schools and boost educational quality.

The report examines SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy), and SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities) to analyze living standards and conflict. Overall, the report concludes that living standards have steadily increased across the region. The report finds significant disparities on access to improved water sources between urban and rural areas and across wealth quintiles. Although most Arab states have provided access to improved sanitation facilities for over 90% of their populations, Sudan and Yemen lag behind on sanitation infrastructure. In Yemen, for instance, violent conflict has damaged water supply networks and populations are cut off from regular access to water and sanitation.

On SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), the report observes several employment and labor-related challenges across the Arab region, which have both contributed to crises. Additional challenges include a lack of diversification, and a mismatch of skills needed by the private sector and skills attained by graduates.

On SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), the report combines geo-coded indicators with household survey microdata to examine how violence across the region affects SDG progress. The report concludes that violence is a development challenge that “could delay progress or even reverse advances already achieved.”

The report emphasizes the importance of better data availability to track SDG progress, especially among conflict-affected countries, and calls for capacity building efforts to improve data availability and quality. It also calls for further investment in national statistical systems to collect, process and analyze data.

The Arab region’s 2020 Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (RFSD) has been postponed until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. [Publication: The Sustainable Development Goals in an Arab Region Affected by Conflict] [Report Landing Page

related posts

Arab SDG Index Identifies SDGs 2 and 5 as Key Regional Challenges

Arab SDG Index Identifies SDGs 2 and 5 as Key Regi...

Advisory Group Calls for Accelerated, Scaled Up Progress on SDG 7 to Close Energy Gap

Advisory Group Calls for Accelerated, Scaled Up Pr...

Asia-Pacific Off Track: 20% of SDG Indicators Predicted to be Worse in 2030

Asia-Pacific Off Track: 20% of SDG Indicators Pred...

OECD Finds Advanced Economies Need to Accelerate SDG Implementation

OECD Finds Advanced Economies Need to Accelerate S...