Adopting an Inclusive Approach:
A Data Use Case Study of Colombia’s National Statistics Office
By The Overcoming Data Graveyards Project Team
7 December 2022
Earlier this year, SDSN TReNDS and Open Data Watch released the report, Overcoming Data Graveyards in Official Statistics: Catalyzing Uptake and Use, which aimed to provide conceptual clarity around the challenges of improving data use and a way forward for research by sourcing best practices from countries. This blog series spotlights insights and best practices from the countries profiled.
With the mission of serving as a basis for public and private decision-making through data and statistics, Colombia’s National Statistics Office, the National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) plans, implements, and evaluates processes for the production and communication of statistical information at the national level. Over the last few years, it has taken crucial steps towards encouraging and standardizing more inclusive, disaggregated data across the national statistical system.
Harnessing Statistics to Ensure No One is Left Behind
Colombia’s historical context has left a lasting impact on wide swaths of society. Despite broad awareness of inequalities in the country, this was often not captured in the country’s official data. This left many already vulnerable population groups, such as indigenous and Afro-descendant populations, statistically invisible. To address this issue and to further meet its legal and constitutional mandate to improve the visibility of minority groups in statistical production, DANE included a differential and intersectional approach to the production and dissemination of official statistics in its most recent national strategy for 2020 – 2022. This approach considers four new dimensions of focus related to marginalized communities: gender, life cycle, ethnicity, and disability. In addition, DANE has joined international initiatives such as the Inclusive Data Charter (IDC) and Leave No One Behind initiatives to further improve the visibility of different population groups in data.
The first principle of DANE’s Inclusive Data Charter Plan is that all populations must be included in the data. To meet this objective, in 2019, DANE established the Differential and Intersectional Approach Group (GEDI by its acronym in Spanish) with the intention to include the IDC principles in DANE’s strategic vision. Specifically, a differential and intersectional approach involves disaggregating data by multiple dimensions (e.g., gender, ethnicity, age, location, migration status, income etc.) to identify inequalities, disparities, and the most marginalized and vulnerable groups. The establishment of GEDI was an important step towards encouraging and standardizing more inclusive, disaggregated data across the national system and led to the creation of the Guide for the Inclusion of the Differential and Intersectional Approach in the Statistical Production of the National Statistical System. The guide provides conceptual, normative, and methodological guidelines to include the ‘Differential and Intersectional Approach’ in the process of production and dissemination of statistical data and outlines why adopting this approach across the statistical system is important for developing a more accurate picture of diverse population groups within a country.
Lessons Learned From An Inclusive Data Approach
DANE’s contributions to data governance, understanding and meeting the needs of their users, and assisting in the capacity and skill-building of data users and producers are all done from a place of inclusivity and intersectionality. By promoting principles of inclusiveness and intersectionality in its statistics, DANE has been able to identify a need to further increase the visibility of different population groups (e.g., those with disabilities) in their data. This has facilitated greater coordination and collaboration among the various national-level actors to ensure an inclusive, holistic approach that leaves no one behind. And focusing on these aspects has allowed DANE the opportunity to meet the broad demands and needs of their users in a unique way.