UNECA Develops City-Level Indicators for Monitoring Sustainable Development

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Addis Ababa, 25 October 2021 (ECA) – A new guide developed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) will support African countries with the monitoring and reporting of their progress on sustainable urban development.

The ‘Reference Guide on City Indicators and Measurement in Africa’ contains 107 city-level indicators for 17 categories, covering all aspects of sustainable urban development such as energy, environment and economy. Under each indicator, it meticulously defines how and when the specific data should be collected as well as its unit, source, provider, processing methods and disaggregation standards in line with good practice and regional context.

One-stop solution

For local authorities, the guide will serve as a one-stop solution to measure, analyze and disseminate how well their cities perform against the indicators which are based on the city-specific commitments outlined in international agreements such as the New Urban Agenda, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063. 

It will offer evidence on whether cities are sustainable, productive and inclusive using existing and emerging statistics, while providing decision-makers with new insights to understand the growth trajectory better and, if necessary, embark on the best-suited methodologies to produce disaggregated data for their cities.

The guide will not only serve as a data measurement tool but will also help build the long-term capacity of the national statistics offices in producing reliable, accurate, relevant and timely city-level data for progress reporting.

‘Valuable tool’

The guide was presented to a group of experts, which included officials from national statistics offices and regional organizations, at a two-day meeting last week, who described it as a “valuable tool” for the post-pandemic urban recovery and rebuilding efforts. The meeting’s purpose was to gather feedback from the experts on the indicators and identify opportunities to pilot the guide in selected cities.

Speaking at the meeting, Ms. Edlam Yemeru, ECA’s Director a.i. for the Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division, said: “African cities house 588 million dwellers and are rapidly growing without adequate city-level disaggregated data and statistics that could inform their planning and management. Urgent action is needed to address this challenge as cities are central to the realization of Africa’s vision for inclusive growth and shared prosperity.”

She added: “Improving the availability of city-level data is critical in accelerating progress on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda within this decade of action, ensuring no one is left behind.”

Building on her statement, Mr. Oliver J. M. Chinganya, ECA’s Director for the African Centre for Statistics, said: “City-level disaggregated data is generally unavailable in Africa and, where available, it is either underutilized, inaccessible or incomparable. Such gaps impact the formulation of appropriate urban policies and strategies in various areas of development.” 

He continued: “The reference guide will strengthen the statistical capacity across all levels of the national statistics systems for gathering data on urbanization and utilizing the information to steer sustainable urban planning.”

Each indicator is carefully designed to ensure optimal data collection with the least effort and is developed after extensive consultation with national statistics offices of more than 30 African countries as well as the UN-Habitat, the Economic Communities of West African States, the East African Community, the Africa Development Bank and the African Union Commission.

The reference guide – part of ECA’s African programme on urban data and statistics – will be officially launched later this year.




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