Using International Reports
Obtaining up-to-date information, facts, figures as well as case studies and viewpoints on important current development and human rights issues has never been easier. Apart from being available on the Internet, such materials are easily accessed through a umber of important international reports which are published annually. This section reviews some of these reports and what is available in them and suggests some ways in which they might be of use. Some are available free on-line, others are found in public libraries - or ask for them to be ordered.
The United Nations Human Development Report (HDR)
The HDR is published every year. It is the most easily accessible and readable of all the international reports and contains a great amount of immediately useable information. The report is compiled by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and has been published since 1990. Each edition covers a particular theme. The theme for 2008 is "Fighting Climate Change" and is covered in depth with: facts and figures, case studies, individual viewpoints and arguments, projections and perceptions of the future. The materials are easy to use and are great for debates and discussions.
State of the World's Children Report
Published by UNICEF, this report is particularly strong on presenting case study material around issues primarily, but not exclusively, affecting women and children. The report includes detailed statistics on the basics, but pays particular attention to the areas of nutrition, health, education, as well as other social development indicators. Also included are excellent historical reviews of key areas including the evolution of UN agreements, etc. Each year's report emphasises a particular theme - for 2007 the theme is: "Women and Children: The Double Dividend of Gender Equality", arguing "that investment in women's rights will ultimately produce a double dividend: advancing the rights of both women and children."
UNICEF also publishes an excellent and readily useable resource entitled "The Progress of Nations" which summarises advances and challenges in key areas of social development. http://www.unicef.org/pon00/
The World Development Report (WDR)
Each year since 1977, the World Bank has published its World Development Report which remains one of the main reference works on development, in particular its economic dimensions. While not easy to read or use, it is a makjor source of information, in particular the statistical information. WDR also focuses on an annual theme - for 2006 the theme is Equity and Development.
The Reality of Aid Report
The Reality of Aid report is published by a consortium of NGOs. Each report contains a review of aid facts and figures, essays on current issues and themes, and most importantly and unusually, a section on perspectives from the South (on aid) plus profiles of individual country aid programmes. The report's real value lies in its critical analysis of official aid; its use of case studies and county profiles and diagrams and graphs. The theme for 2006: "Focus on Conflict, Security and Development Cooperation."
Statistics on international aid are relatively easy to come by, as most official and voluntary aid agencies are anxious to promote themselves and their work. Information on official aid programmes can be obtained from the annual reports or the websites of government aid programmes for example:
- Figures for Irish Aid - www.irishaid.gov.ie
- DFID in the UK - www.dfid.uk
- Most of the government aid programmes can be found by searching the official government websites - www.gksoft.com/govt/en/
Voluntary aid agency figures on aid, etc. can be found in the annual reports of individual agencies on their individual websites. While there is no central website for Ireland, many of the big British agencies can be located through www.uk.oneworld.net/guides/aid
The main reference source for more detailed statistics is the annual Report of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) - and can be found at: http://www.oecd.org/document/62/0,3343,en_2649_33721_42195902_1_1_1_1,00.html
The OECD website address is www.oecd.org
OECD Factbook 2007 - Economic, Environmental and Social Statistics
This factbook was first published in 2005, and is available annually. The resource comprises statistical information for OECD member countries (limited non-member information) with indicators covering a wide range of areas: economy, agriculture, education, energy, environment, foreign aid, health and quality of life, industry, information and communications, population/labour force, trade and investment, taxation, public expenditure and Research & Development. Includes: indicators with descriptions, statistical tables, graphics, comments on comparability of data, an assessment of long-term trends, and a list of references for further information.
Annual Reports on the State of World Hunger
Each year, Bread for the World Institute in the United States publishes an excellent review on this most fundamental issue. The reports have been published since 1990/1991 and contain excellent and usable case studies and analyses. Particularly useful are the reviews of various regional situations as regards hunger. Each report contains a variety of essays on a particular theme and an update on global hunger by region. Some of the reports review world hunger from a variety of perspectives such as political and religious perspectives. See: www.bread.org/learn/hunger-reports/ to download the report.
State of the World's Population
This is published annually by the United Nations Population Fund (www.unfpa.org) It contains facts and figures on current population statistics, including future population projections; case studies of specific programmes, issues and countries; and different perspectives on controversial issues.
The theme for the 2007 report is - Unleashing the Potential of Urban Growth.
The World's Women: Progress in Statistics
This is a periodic report from the United Nations Statistics Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). First published in 1990, the first 3 editions focussed on statistical trends in the situation of women. The 2005 edition is the fourth in the series and looks at national sex disaggregated information and focuses on progress rather than trends in statistics. The report focuses on sex-disaggregated statistics in the areas of health, education, work, violence against women, demographics, poverty, human rights and decision-making. While it looks academic and sometimes difficult to read, it is nonetheless full of useful and relevant materials on issues such as violence against women, power and decision-making, where statistics are particularly difficult to find.