By Rodolfo Córdova Alcaraz*
This is the 16th post in our blog series on ‘What kind of ‘data revolution’ do we need for post-2015?’
The idea of a data revolution as a core element of the post-2015 development agenda is gaining momentum in the wake of the scene-setting report of the High Level Panel. It would not be wrong to say that the development agenda offers a window of opportunity to enhance or create the data that are needed to assess the hundred of millions of dollars, euros and pounds that will flow from one place to another. However, what kind of data do we need to enhance or create? What for? The answer should be clear: we need to do so to advance in the fulfilment of human rights. Yes, assessing the impact of aid is relevant, as is evaluating government policies, but the most important thing is to identify how money and actions translate into the wellbeing of people – in their own terms, not those of the private sector nor of the donor community.
Since The Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the Accra Agenda for Action, some actors in Latin America have pushed for systems that aim to evaluate public policies by performance management. This trend has reached public administration. In Mexico, the Ministry of Finance is fostering a profound change on how to structure, measure and evaluate policies. Despite the relevance of doing so – there is no question about that – the impact will be limited if decision makers follow a top-down approach. People must start developing their capacities in this regard. We must build our own knowledge on how to start collecting and collating data, and how to translate it into goals, targets and indicators. This is what the Colectivo PND-Migration has been trying to do since mid 2012.
The Colectivo is composed currently of eighty+ grassroots networks and organizations based in Mexico, the USA and Central America. Our aim is to change the paradigm of migration in Mexico and the region from one based on national security (migration management) to one based on human dignity, sustainable development and social inclusion (migration governance). We have been doing so by trying to include our vision and technical proposals in Mexican public policies – first, into the National Development Plan, the framework for all government policies, and second, into the Special Migration Program, a multi-sectoral and sub-national policy instrument.
To do so, we built our Transnational Programmatic and Budgetary Agenda (TPBA). Our Agenda has 6 objectives, each of which includes strategies, action items, indicators and targets. The indicators form a wide spectrum, ranging from those that aim to measure transparency, accountability, and the coordinating efforts of the different federal agencies, to those linked to civil, political, social and economic rights. Moreover, the Agenda doesn’t limit itself to migrant rights, but goes further in aiming to reach migrant families and communities.
We know that the state will not change if we, as a critical movement, don’t push towards it. Take two quite recent examples related to migration. The first one involves the sectoral plan of the Ministry of Interior in Mexico. It includes an indicator of how many Mexican migrants that have been deported by the US government to the common border will be sent back to their (usually rural) communities of origin. The baseline in 2013 is around 55% and the target for 2018 is 70%. This means that in five years, 7 out of 10 Mexican migrants will be sent back to their communities. And that is it. In which conditions will they be sent back? What will the state do to nurture and foster their capacities once they are there? How will the state guarantee the conditions for them to fulfil their wellbeing? There is not a single word about this, neither in this sectoral plan nor in that of Social Development nor that of Labour.
The second example can be found in the Ministry of Defense’s sectoral plan. It includes an indicator on permanent missions in the southern border to deter drug traffickers and to control the flow of drugs and migrants. The target is one permanent mission each year until 2018. This only reinforces a policy that has a profound negative impact on migrants and their families, as shown over at least 30 years: the securitization of migration. Such a strategy will only make migrants more vulnerable in a country in which hundred of thousands of them are mugged, kidnapped and sometimes murdered.
Arguably, we could compare the efforts of the Colectivo to those undertaken by the Ministry of Finance in Mexico or other international agencies and donors. But the main difference is that we are trying to do it using a bottom-up approach, mixing both quantitative and qualitative elements. Besides using the data that is out there, we are collecting and collating our own data in order to foster changes. For instance, we are seeking to measure how much money the Mexican government is allocating to guarantee migrant rights and how this accords with migrant priorities, as well as how many migrants have experienced human rights abuses on their journeys through Mexico, by asking migrants about this during their stay in the humanitarian shelters that are run by Colectivo members.
In sum, our work is based on our grassroots knowledge and experience, and takes that into the public policies realm. In the Colectivo we are pushing towards a profound data revolution to fulfil the wellbeing of migrants, their families and communities. As with any revolution, we are trying to build from the bottom to the top, and that approach also must include the definition of the post-2015 development agenda.
* President of the Citizen Council of the National Migration Institute and member of the Consultative Council on migration policies, both in Mexico; member of the Global Civil Society Steering Committee of the High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development and the Global Forum on Migration and Development. (firstname.lastname@example.org) Twitter: @chikmigrante