(Oh! data, data, data…)

(Photo credits to the owner)

“Without data you are just another person with an opinion”- W. Edward Deming

A good friend, who I describe as one of the most seasoned worker in the practice of development works, asked me yesterday what is the poverty incidence of my town. Surprised by his question, for the exact reason that I really do not know, replied to his question with the question “Why are you asking me?”.

Poverty incidence is a socio-economic indicator dependent of other various and relevant social (economic, political, cultural) indices. It maybe hard to calculate and measure because of cross-cutting issues and its inherent complexity, but it will be the benchmark of how development direction is set. Thus, in any effort of making development plans especially in the local level (by LGUs), in substance and in forms, such as Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP), Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP), Executive-Legislative Agenda (ELA), LDRRM Plans, Local Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan (LCCAP), among others, credible and comprehensive data and information, like poverty incidence, are indispensable.

In credible and comprehensive data and information, I am not referring to perfection and play god in demanding for them because it is neither possible nor realistic. Conversely, what I am referring to are data and information which are collected, processed and stored enough to be dependable benchmarks before jumping into the planning process. These must be responsive to the felt-in needs of the people and sensitive to what are practical and timely when implemented in communities. And these must and should be utilized as reference in the proposition of potential and possible programs, projects and activities.

Typical and quintessential of these, although a long, long listing is needed to complete the lists, are as simple as:

1. Number of areas (hectares) devoted for various crops including who are using these lands with their corresponding crops and their annual yields and income out of their farming.
2. Data of protected and productive forest lands, their utilization and people earning from them.
3. How the informal/underground economies operates and the portion of the economic circulation they are contributing.
4. Health-related and nutrition indicators.
5. Employment (unemployment) rates.
6. Number of children/youth enrolled in schools and out of school.
7. Number of families occupying government lots, danger zones, vulnerable areas, among others and projected number of families needing relocation.
8. Numbers indicating the needs of public infrastructures like road networks, FMR, bridges, public utilities, critical facilities, among others.
9. People’s capacity indices enough to be resilient in times of disasters and emergencies.
10. Measurement of power, water, food supplies now and in the next 5, 10, 15, 20 years..
11. and the list goes on, and on, and on…

Absent these vital, necessary, relevant and timely data and information before, I mean before, any effort of crafting development plans, all are just personal opinion, prejudices, partialities, and wild imagining of those who are entrusted in formulating, authorizing and approving them.

After all, W. Edward Deming has already reminded us that without data we are just another people with opinions.

Just sharing what’s on my mind.

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