Sources of international development data for your research and data analysis practice

May 18, 2021

As a data analyst working in social development, data is your main resource. And in certain cases you might want to get your hands on data for your research or simply for practice. If that’s what you are looking for, then you are in luck. Over the past few years, there has been a lot of strides from both small and large organizations in publishing data that you can use for your research or for polishing up your data analytics skills. I will be rounding up the top data sources for international development.

World Bank Open Data

The World Bank Open Data portal is one of the largest data repositories for global development data. The portal features a catalog of time series open data, an online data visualization tool called DataBank a repository of microdata from surveys, data on world development indicators developed by the World Bank, and more.

Visit World Bank Open Data

WHO open data

The World Health Organization publishes health data on its World Health Data Platform. On the platform, you will find data for nearly all countries of the world on topics such as TB, HIV/AIDS, Maternal and perinatal health, mental health, COVID and many others. You will also be able to get data on popular health indicators such as mortality rates, life expectancy, and number of diarrhea deaths.

Visit the World Health Data Platform

UNICEF datasets

UNICEF publishes child statistics its open data platform. You will fin datasets and dashboards on many topics such as birth registration, child disability, child labor, COVID-19 all the way to early childhood development. On the UNICEF data warehouse, you will be able to build your own data queries that will return any data you want.

Visit the WHO Data Warehouse


The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime conducts research and publishes the data on its data platform. You will be able to choose from research reports, curated statistics, or raw data that you can further analyze. Topics include wildlife crime, homicide, prison statistics, drug use, firearms statistics, and many others.

Visit UNODC data portal

Harvard Dataverse

If you are looking for cross-cutting data from across the world, the Harvard Dataverse features data for a wide range of topics such as agriculture, arts and humanities, medicine and health, law, business and management, and many others. The largest collection is social sciences with over 50.000 data sets.

Visit Harvard Dataverse

DHS Program

The Demographic and Health Survey Program collects demographic and health data from many countries in the world. Topics include nutrition, malaria, HIV, family planning, childhood mortality and many more. The most interesting part is that there is high chance you will be able to find data from your country in time series format from the periodical surveys they implement, helping you make comparisons across time.

Visit the DHS Program

Open Data for Africa

If you are interested in African development data, look no further than AfDB’s Open Data for Africa portal. The African Development Bank collects and curates data on many topics including ICT, debt, environment. Public finance and many other topics from its member states. You can browse data and dashboards by country or by topic. You can then export the data or any dashboards in Excel or PDF format.

Visit Open Data for Africa


Still on Africa, Afrobarometer conducts a series of national public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, and society. The surveys started in 1999 and have been ongoing up to the present, in 37 countries in Africa. Apart from downloading survey raw data, Afrobarometer also allows you to analyze the data online using their data analysis tool.

Visit Afrobarometer


Data is becoming more open than ever. And that’s a good thing for development specialists, data analysts in development projects in specific. Apart from having readily available data for research, open data is also an opportunity to practice different data analyses. The open data repositories mentioned in this article are valuable resources for this.

Do you have an idea about more other open data resources? Add them in the comment section below.

Learn SPSS, STATA, KoboToolbox, Power BI and more

Join DATAFORDEV for self-paced courses, live online workshops, and a private community forum for social impact professionals.

Join now