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Dominican Republic: Human Empowerment Index will help strengthen local services for development
In collaboration with the Government of the Dominican Republic, UNDP is working on a National Human Development Report for 2012 that will strengthen the Dominican Human Empowerment Index. The index, analysis and policy recommendations will build on the previous report from 2008 entitled “Human Development, a question of power”. By comparing the situation for different social groups, age groups and men and women, at the level of provinces, the new report will aim to support public policy making as well as basic public services for strengthening human development.
The human development approach takes a broad view on what development means. The approach understands development in terms of strengthening human capabilities, and contrasts with a common view that sees development purely in terms of GDP growth, and poverty purely as income-deprivation. Human capabilities may include being able to live a full life of normal length, being able to have good health, or being able to feel, imagine, think and reason.
It is within this broad view on development that political empowerment is a central concept. Supporting human capabilities, political empowerment serves to strengthen people’s social and political capabilities in particular. This includes capabilities such as ability to demand political and social rights, accessing services and participating in political decision making. Through these means, empowerment may serve to strengthen people’s capability to better take charge and improve their own human condition.
The project will support the National Statistical Office in developing a questionnaire and conducting a representative household survey on political empowerment. The previous round of the Dominican Human Empowerment Index relied on various existing data sources, which unfortunately had limitations on the quality and robustness of the results. While there are several measuring initiatives that touch upon the issues of political empowerment on the ground in the Dominican Republic, the data situation is scant: some datasets are contaminated by clientelism, others are more qualitative in nature, and yet others are not representative. This survey will be unique in offering nationally and locally representative data as a collective good. The survey will be rolled-out at the local level and include variables such as districts, age and sex. It will explore individual capabilities, such as those related to economic activity, health, education and access and use of IT. It will also explore collective capabilities, such as political and social capabilities.
The survey results will serve to inform the Government’s local governance and decentralisation agenda. The previous report identified that despite a process of decentralization since 1994, local governance is still relatively weak with regards to local government as well as citizen participation. For example, despite the existence of a law that allows for quotas, women participation in local government is still below 33%. The strengthened index will seek to provide a more detailed diagnosis and benchmarking, by among others allowing for comparison between districts, which may assist in identifying actions and improving implementation.
The support to this survey is jointly funded by a UNIFEM and UNDP collaboration on measuring governance and gender. For UNDP the project will be linked to its work on human development as well as governance assessments. The objective of this funding is to stimulate the identification and analysis of Human Development relevant governance indicators that are also gender- sensitive. Highlighting the importance of governance indicators to human development can increase the demand, quality and relevance of nationally produced governance statistics.