Research in development statistics – Five useful resources

When writing a desk review you often need those key statistics to contextualise the topic and start off your research with a solid foundation. Research in Development is fast moving and attempts to react to what’s happening, so your sources need to be up to date and reflect these changes. These are some of the go-to sites we can recommend.

UNOCHA Financial Tracking System:

The UNOCHA tracking system allows you to get the overall perspective on financing for any region or country in terms of aid and also lets you get pretty specific. You can search by sector (education, health, security) and also by donor (either country or NGO) to find out exactly what has been promised and what has been delivered. This gives any research a strong foundation in finance.

UNHCR Statistics Database:

If you’re looking at migration, displacement, refugees, asylum seekers or statelessness this is the place to come for your statistical grounding. The figures cover the globe and searches can be made based on country of origin and country / territory or asylum or residence and in many cases can be more specific to region or province. It’s the comprehensive overview your research needs.


If you’re looking for anything related to education, UNICEF Data holds many statistics of interest, offering desegregation by gender, region, country, age and many other variables. Excel sheets are downloadable, allowing quick transformations into graphs and tables to insert into your work.

GHO Data Repository

The Global Health Observatory Data Repository is a gateway to all health statistics generated by the WHO covering 194 member states. The database is searchable by an array of categories, including diseases, demographics and even media campaigns.

Humanitarian Data Exchange

The Humanitarian Data Exchange is a self described ‘open platform for sharing data’. This is a one stop shop of many different data resources shared by other users – some of them the largest humanitarian organisations in the world. Data is delivered in a range of forms and the collection is comprehensive in scope. Participants are often providing data on most of their activities from large scale international operations to small grassroots, meaning if you’re looking for something a little more niche, this is a very promising place to start your search.

Are there any more you’ve come across you’d add to our collection? Please add your comments and opinions.


Kelly O’Donovan is a Communications Officer for Trust. She has a Masters in Media in Development from SOAS and is interested in finding new and exciting ways to communicate in the development sector.

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