The effective use of data in the public sector is often hindered by challenges unique to the various regions in which we work. By utilizing the right tools however, we can not only identify but also move towards resolving these challenges.

We summarize four challenges below and mention some of the best practices that can help partners and implementers overcome them.

Reliance on self-reported data

Often when there is a lack of third-party data, reviewing progress becomes difficult because the only option is to use self-reported data. 

Two strategies can help overcome this challenge:

  • Placing verification checks on self-reported data using existing resources to help improve its quality

  • Triangulating self-reported data using other sources, e.g., household surveys

Presenting data effectively

From our work, especially in the province of Punjab in Pakistan, we have noticed that presenting data by itself does not always result in the desired effect.

In such a situation, two ways of presenting data have proven to be useful:

  • Increasing the use of effective visualization to present critical information

  • Embedding the data in a well-crafted, convincing story to prompt the desired action from its audience

Identifying reliable data sources

Identifying reliable data sources is extremely important.

Three factors can help in selecting the most reliable data source:

  • Data should be collected regularly at timely intervals that are aligned with the goals of the project

  • The data collection authority must have a good reputation with regards to data quality and transparency

  • Data should have appropriate coverage to meet the requirements


“The effective use of data in the public sector is often hindered by challenges unique to the various regions in which we work.”

Selecting relevant data points

Selecting a few relevant data points from among an extensive amount of collected data is a challenge our teams working on Covid-19 had to grapple with.

Three key steps helped this process:

  • Mapping the process of the activity for which data is being collected

  • Identifying the overall outcome and outputs of the activity; there could be different outputs for each process in an activity

  • Designing KPIs that directly measure outcomes and key outputs, and then selecting the data points that link with these KPIs

In an age where governments rely on data more and more, it is critical to ensure that the data is used effectively and serves the intended purpose. By using the right set of best practices explained above, those in charge of implementation can make this happen.


Fatima Shahid & Rimshaw Khan