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Intro to the Responsible Data for Children Principles: Purpose-Driven

Posted on 6th of September 2023 by Oscar Onam, Eugenia Olliaro

Intro to the Responsible Data for Children Principles: Purpose-Driven
Intro to the Responsible Data for Children Principles: Purpose-Driven

Today’s blog looks at the importance of being purpose-driven, how this principle was embedded in UNICEF’s work in Mongolia with the Administrative Data Maturity Model (ADaMM), and which resources are available to you to operationalise it. 


What Does Purpose-Driven Mean? 

A responsible data practice starts by being purpose-driven. When you seek to handle data you should identify why the data is needed to achieve the intended goal and how the benefits relate to improving children’s lives. If there is no clearly articulated benefit for children, either actual or potential, you should not collect data, store, share, or analyze it. You might consider specifying the  purpose and the value of the data to those who have a stake in its collection and use, including children and their caregivers. A privacy notice, for instance, may be useful for this purpose. 

Defining a clear purpose has several benefits, including: 

  • Better Decision-Making: When there is a clear understanding of the purpose, it is easier to make decisions based on how they will or could contribute to achieve the goal. 
  • Evaluation: By defining clear goals and objectives, you can measure progress and determine whether the project is on track to achieve its desired outcome. 
  • Communication: A clear purpose makes it easier to communicate the objectives and results of the initiative to all stakeholders involved who, as a consequence, are on the same page and can work towards the same goal. 

Sharing the purpose with children and their caregivers can lead to several positive outcomes, including: 

  • Transparency: Informing children and their caregivers about the purpose of data collection promotes transparency, which can help build trust and credibility. 
  • Improved Data Quality: When children and their caregivers understand the purpose of data collection, they are more likely to provide accurate and complete information. This can improve the quality of the data collected, which can help you in return to gain meaningful insights and develop effective strategies. 
  • Improved Engagement: When children and their caregivers understand the purpose of the project and how their data will be used, they are more likely to engage with the project, participate more actively and feel invested in its success. 

How Have Others Pursued Being Purpose-Driven? 

An example of the purpose-driven principle can be found in the efforts conducted by the Government of Mongolia to develop an integrated data system. 

 In partnership with the Asia Development Bank (ADB) and UNICEF, the National Statistics Office (NSO) of the Government of Mongolia has been working to enhance the country's capabilities in generating and using high-quality data and evidence. Among other things, the NSO intends to undertake a cross-sectoral assessment of the national data landscape, with the goal being to understand what data is scattered among the numerous administrative data systems and what data is lacking. 

This assessment aims to formulate a comprehensive roadmap for the development of an integrated data system to enhance the delivery of public services to children. 

 To support this effort, UNICEF has recommended using the Administrative Data Maturity Model (ADaMM). This model will provide the NSO with a structured approach to identify strengths and weaknesses in the national administrative data landscape, prioritize areas for improvement, and allocate resources effectively. Because an integrated data system will allow the collection, processing, sharing, analysis, and use of information from multiple entities spanning diverse sectors, they will offer a more holistic understanding of the children whose data has been captured—regardless of the services they received in the first place and the administrative data system that originally captured their information. 

By identifying a purpose for separate streams of data collection, and a purpose for their integration, the country will be able to generate actionable insights on children's needs, measure progress and bottlenecks towards national goals and drive targeted public interventions to address them. More information can be found here.


What Resources Can I Use to Be Purpose-Driven? 

In the RD4C toolkit, the 22 Questions methodology offers a set of questions for quickly evaluating projects or systems that manage data concerning children and can help you identify whether your work is purpose-driven and address any spotted gaps in this regard. Outside the RD4C Toolkit, practitioners may find useful models in The 100 Questions Methodology and Problem Definition Tool, both of which provide means of defining purpose.


We hope this blog has been useful to you in helping you understand what it means to prevent harms across the data lifecycle. This marks the end of our Seven Principles series, but you can receive updates on future blogs by signing up to our mailing list here.

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