The Arab Development Portal (ADP) is an initiative of the Coordination Group of Arab National and Regional Development Institutions (CG) to create a knowledge platform that promotes timely and high quality knowledge on development issues in the Arab World. The primary objective of the ADP is to improve the scope, depth, reliability, availability and use of high quality information to support development progress in the Arab World. As such, the ADP faces a number of challenges in positioning itself as a demand-driven and high quality knowledge platform that addresses the needs of a wide range of end-users in a sustainable manner.
In October 2010 the Heads of the CG requested the UNDP and World Bank to jointly develop content, functionality and connectivity aspects of the ADP in a prototype form. Phase One of the project was launched in May 2013 and the UNDP and World Bank teams successfully collaborated to develop a prototype of five thematic pages; namely (i) Job Creation/Employment; (ii) Trade and Integration (iii) Private Sector Development; (iv) Macroeconomy; and (v) Banking & Finance. Each thematic template identified development challenges, current policy and/or investment priority areas; and each country template focused on growth and development pillars. The developed content included an introductory overview, sub-thematic briefs, relevant publications and data, and additional resources including toolkits, lessons learned, blogs, and events. Additionally, the developed prototype included two country pages: namely (i) Egypt and (ii) Tunisia. Phase One proved insightful in designing a project that would actively overcome the perceived challenges; whether in terms of sustaining content development or creating knowledge differentiation. During Phase One, a number of challenges came into the picture. One of the main challenges is how to make of ADP a demand-driven and high quality knowledge platform that addresses the needs of a wide range of end-users.
Given the outcome of Phase One and the highlighted challenges, a new agreement was signed between OFID and the UNDP on 15 April 2014. Under the new cost-sharing agreement, Phase Two was launched and UNDP lead the full development of the ADP (content, functionality and connectivity) across 11 thematic clusters; namely (i) education (knowledge for development); (ii) gender; (iii) energy; and (iv) water and food security; (v) poverty; and (vi) demography while covering all twenty-two Arab countries. As a result and taking into consideration feedback received from members of the CG in December 2013 and March 2014 and three end-users consultation meetings held in 2013 and 2014, UNDP finalized the development of a first of its kind dynamic, bi-lingual and online knowledge platform that is home to a unique and dynamic database and a rich depository of resources and that offers advanced tools for data browsing, extraction and visualization. On April 25, 2016, the ADP was officially launched in Amman, Jordan. A one-stop-shop, the Portal today offers a dynamic multi-source database that is home to 2,750 unique indicators, with the majority extracted from websites of National Statistical Offices of Arab states.
Continuous consultations with strategic end-users and a thorough assessment by the members of the CG in 2014 and 2015 paved the way for the emergence of “Phase Three and Beyond”. In June 2015, it was agreed by the CG members that a three-year period by UNDP would currently be the most feasible for Phase III. Within the scope of Phase Three, the ADP will maintain the scope of work identified in Phase
Two in terms of consolidation of statistical content and production of brief analytical content to provide an overview of the different themes or of countries. Maintaining the timeliness of the current database and the large repository of indicators is manageable given the organizational structure and the systematic flow of work adopted by UNDP in the past couple of years. To ensure the quality of its database and reduce the cost of maintaining the timeliness of the database, ADP Phase Three will expand its current activities on three levels: using more advanced technologies for updating its database that enables SDMX sharing, strengthening the relationship with NSOs for data harmonization and data sharing, and introducing new visualization and export tools to improve the user experience. In 2016, UNDP will create a special module for data sharing using SDMX technology, the newest tool, sponsored by the major UN and international agencies, used for data and metadata sharing that overcomes the differences in database architectures adopted by various producers of data. Besides, a total of six additional thematic pages will be added by 2018 and new topics introduced under the existing themes. With the adoption of the United Nations of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), introducing changes to the ADP database and visualization tools to allow users to track SDGs is key and would give the ADP an additional competitive edge.