Leave No One Behind Partnership is making voices heard and count

The Leave No One Behind project was launched in late 2017 as a partnership of 12 international civil society organizations (ICSOs).

In 2018, the partnership set up national coalitions in 5 pilot countries (Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Nepal and Vietnam), bringing together national NGOs and civic platforms, as well as community-based organisations.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were created in the spirit of “leaving no one behind”, meaning all goals need to be reached for everyone. However, data that sufficiently captures the needs of marginalised groups is scarcely found in official monitoring statistics and hence doesn’t play a role

in the planning of public services and policies. As a result, no proper solutions can be offered to improve the livelihoods of these people.

The partnership’s main goal is to deliver a practical solution for this challenge, giving voice and agency to marginalised groups who are at risk of being overlooked in the implementation of the SDGs.

Thereby, the Leave No One Behind partnership wants to make SDG implementation more inclusive and accountable towards those who are furthest behind in society – making their voices heard and count!


Additional information about the partnership’s work can be found at


Our Approach

Through its inclusive approach of “community-driven data”, the coalition aims to fill knowledge gaps in local level SDG monitoring and better understand local drivers of vulnerability and marginalisation. Community-driven data means: the needed evidence and SDG monitoring data is produced at the local level, with the affected communities directly involved in data generation (Making Voices Heard).

At the same time, coalition partners and authorities at the local and national levels (e.g. mayors, local spokespersons, planning and statistics agencies, etc.) have entered into a dialogue aiming to bring community-driven data to practical use as a complimentary source of information for public planning and policy making. Locally generated evidence and feedback are necessary to realise a successful and accountable SDG implementation, which requires policies and public services that are capable of addressing local drivers of vulnerability (Making Voices Count).

Country Action

Pilot Action in Five Countries

For about one year, members and supporters of the partnership at national have co-shaped their joint field work. As result of their collaboration, carefully planned pilot researches have been conducted at the community level across five countries (Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Nepal and Vietnam), reaching hundreds of people living at the margins of society.

These researches were conducted inclusively, meaning the target groups themselves were involved in the production of relevant monitoring data. The findings delivered important insights on concrete needs of the groups in focus and shed light on local drivers of vulnerability. As a subsequent step, target groups were involved in dialogues and workshops

In India the national coalition work is led by Wada Na Todo Abhiyan (WNTA). Among many other partners, key contributors were: Amnesty International, Human Rights Advocacy and Research Foundation (HRF), Life Education & Development Support (LEADS), GIZ and Bread for the World.


Making Voices Heard: findings from the national research pilot

SDG Targets: SDG Goal 1 (end poverty); 2 (zero hunger); 3 (good health and wellbeing); 4 (quality education); 5 (gender equality); 6 (clean water and sanitation); 7 (affordable and clean energy); 8 (decent work and economic growth), 10 (inequality), 11 (sustainable cities and communities) and 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions).

Target groups: 20 social groups including: scheduled and vulnerable caste and tribe communities; nomadic tribes; vulnerable children, young people and elderly; transgender people; bonded labourers; urban poor; fisherfolk; people with disabilities; religious minorities and vulnerable women.

How did we engage marginalised groups in SDG monitoring?

LNOB partners trained members of grassroots organisations representing marginalised groups in 10 ‘hotspots’. Representatives convened focus group discussions, key informant interviews and household surveys using a mobile app, reaching 1,000 people.

Ways target groups are left behind:

Of the 10 marginalised communities surveyed, all face discrimination in accessing key welfare schemes which are crucial to achieving the SDGs in India.

  • Girls and women additionally face gross inequalities and exclusion.
  • Child marriage and sexual abuse is widely prevalent in the communities sampled.
  • Groups in focus suffer from a high degree of unemployment: on average, they were employed for only 14 days a month. This situation is characterised by irregular earnings and wages.
  • Around 42% of the households do not have access to adequate housing and live in Kutcha houses, made of materials such as bamboo, mud, grass, unburnt bricks, etc., mainly in slums.

What is missed in national reporting?

  • The current national data systems like the Census and National Family Health Survey are based on averages of broad classifications of communities. These data do not reflect the situation of the most marginalised groups on different development indicators.
  • Government surveys are done at long intervals and thus not adequate for timely proactive policy interventions.
  • The comparison between primary data collected from the LNOB households and secondary data available through government sources clearly shows the gap between the target groups and national average on most of the development indicators.


Making Voices Count

National advocacy impact so far

The India national coalition has engaged with the NITI Aayog, the body of the union government responsible for designing, coordinating facilitating and reporting on the SDGs. Some coalition members support various state governments in translating the SDGs related to their ministries and departments, and some already contribute to the annual monitoring report on specific SDG goals.


  • Collect and use disaggregated data on left-behind groups to frame policies, provisions and government planning.
  • Promote in-depth research on left behind groups within socially excluded communities to capture current development gaps, multiple barriers and constraints in accessing development provisions and rights.
  • Legislate the ‘anti-discrimination’ bill and orient duty bearers on the consequences of discrimination – build perspectives and skills to ensure social inclusion.
  • Build capacities and resources of the local governments to identify socially excluded sub-population groups within their jurisdiction, and develop strategies to promote social equity and inclusion through policies and provisions.
  • Implement effectively targeted affirmative action and entitlement programs aligned with SDG indicators for socially excluded groups.
  • Ensure strict implementation of legislation and mechanisms to prevent violence, protect life, livelihood and property, and ensure access to timely redress and justice.
  • Include a dedicated space for Leaving No One Behind in the Agenda 2030 plans of NITI Aayog and state plans; and establish a dedicated team for Leaving No One Behind in the SDG unit of NITI Aayog and corresponding officers in states.

In Nepal, the Leave No One Behind national coalition comprises the country offices of VSO (lead partner), ActionAid Care, CBM, Plan, WWF and World Vision, and the Beyond Beijing Committee.


Making Voices Heard: findings from the national research pilot

SDG Targets: 5.1: End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere; 5.2: Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls; 5.3: Eliminate harmful practices;

5.4: Recognise and value unpaid care work; 5.5: Equal opportunities in decision making; 5.6: Sexual and reproductive health.

 Target groups: Young women and girls.

How did we engage marginalised groups in SDG monitoring?

LNOB partners worked with Local Women’s Major Groups in nine wards of three municipalities belonging to different three provinces (2, 5, 6). These groups used community scorecards to lead citizens and service providers in a participatory process to monitor SDG Goal 5 in their local area. Citizens monitored performance on 41 indicators, including the official government indicators for the relevant SDG targets, as well as a set of supplementary indicators.

Ways target groups are left behind:

Some of the aggregate findings from the community scorecards were:

  • Women earn lower wages than men – and wage discrimination varies between local areas. Few public agencies are meeting the national target to put in place local laws to prevent discrimination. However, the laws are yet to come into effect.
  • Though awareness on violence against women and girls (VAWG) as a crime is high, there are still more efforts required to address GBV and harmful social norms.
  • Child marriage is still very high; and municipalities score badly on actions against those responsible for carrying out early marriage and harmful practices.
  • Municipalities score badly on having provisions for gender responsive social protection (like maternity leave, child care).
  • Lack of fully functional gender responsive budget allocation and inclusive data at ward level.

What is missed in national reporting?

  • National gender equality data fails to capture diverse results at municipal level – it is not able to show where change is needed.
  • National indicators only show part of the picture – the supplementary indicators in this research highlight key implementation gaps holding back achievement of SDG 5.


Making Voices Count

National advocacy impact so far

In Nepal, service providers and citizens in the nine municipalities have developed future targets to improve in each of the 41 areas of gender equality measured in the community scorecards. These targets form a benchmark that citizens can now use to hold service providers to account.


  • Effectively implement practical and policy level interventions to combat violence against women and girls (VAWG), and improve gender equality, including:
    • Introduce gender responsive social protection provisions for women and interventions addressing issues of child marriage.
    • Introduce gender responsive budgets system at Municipality level (available already at national and province level) and follow-up mechanism on implementation
    • Increase women’s participation in decision making processes and positions
    • Enhance reproductive health knowledge and awareness through various awareness programs, including programs targeting harmful norms (such as menstrual taboos, child marriage)
    • Empower women economically by engaging them in enterprise development and income generation activities
    • Increase women’s awareness on their legal rights and services and complaint mechanisms available for combating issues of VAWG.
  • Improve the capacity of national statistical systems to collect disaggregated data by sex, age group, geography, caste/ethnicity, ability and poverty status + improve monitoring of Goal 5:
    • Enhance the capacity of local officers to standardise the data management system in public agencies on VAWG
    • Implement gender mainstreaming scorecards, focused at different levels of government, and include SDG 5 indicators in public institutions’ regular result matrices
  • Increase investment in science, technology, research and innovation in productive sectors and provide an enabling environment for private sector investment.
  • Create enabling environment for civil society and support in strengthening their solidarity and internal good governance promotion for increased interventions on gender equality.
  • Improve awareness on laws, policies and guidelines among service providers and strengthen mechanisms for monitoring and accountability of service delivery. Encourage public and local authorities to use community-led monitoring tools.
  • Empower women and marginalised communities so that their participation in local level development planning can be ensured and voices will be heard.

In Bangladesh, the Leave No One Behind national coalition comprises: ActionAid; BRAC; Care International; CBM; Islamic Relief; Plan International; Save the Children; Transparency International; and VSO.


Making Voices Heard: findings from the national research pilot

SDG Target: Target 3.8: Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.

Target groups: Street dwellers and floating populations.

How did we engage marginalised groups in SDG monitoring?

LNOB partners undertook a desk study to identify knowledge gaps, then convened group discussions, in depth interviews and key informant interviews in 3 sites with floating populations/street dwellers, govt. and non-govt. healthcare providers and policy makers (government officials). Using these methods, the survey team collected rich qualitative data to understand the experiences of the target populations.

Ways target groups are left behind:

  • Street dwellers and floating populations in Bangladesh do not have access to quality healthcare and are excluded from almost all services offered by the government of Bangladesh.
  • Living on the street prevents street dwellers and floating populations from maintaining regular hygiene practices. They have low nutritional status and spend most of their income on food. Women are more vulnerable than men in terms of safety and security.
  • Street dwellers and floating populations generally do not visit health facilities or hospitals for common illnesses. Nearby drug shops are usually the first contact point for any treatment. In severe cases, they go to the Government Medical College Hospitals.
  • Financial hardship, long hospital queues, absence of identity cards and distance from services are the main reasons why they do not seek health care.
  • While there is a limited amount of free healthcare services available, these groups are excluded due to lack of money for tests or medicine and lack of information on the free services they are able to access.

What is missed in national reporting?

  • National surveys are based on the household, so they systematically exclude street dwellers/floating populations who do not have a fixed household address.
  • More broadly, national databases do not collect and represent disaggregated data on marginalized people.
  • Existing policies have failed to address the problems of healthcare in depth and identify the needs and priorities of marginalised people.


Making Voices Count

National advocacy impact so far

The Bangladesh national coalition has collaborated informally with UNDP and WHO for technical support and resource mobilization. It has engaged government offices, including the NGO Affairs Bureau and the Bangladesh SDG Coordinator, who attended the first annual Leave No One Behind stakeholder meeting.


Service provision

  • Initiate mobile health clinics through public-private partnership (PPP) model to make services available for street-dwellers in a time and place convenient for them.
  • Introduce special identity cards to ease priority access to healthcare for floating populations/street dwellers and minimize the cost, especially of diagnosis and medicines.

Programme level

  • Improve coordination of interventions for floating populations/street dwellers.
  • Organise interventions to improve safety and basic amenities for floating population/street dwellers, including night shelters; day care centres; locker services; low cost hygienic food shops; free toilets and washing facilities.
  • Develop coordinated campaigns to build the awareness of floating populations/street dwellers on the existing low-cost services provided by public and private sectors.

Policy and health system level

  • Conduct a census of the floating population/street dwellers in Dhaka and other large cities to inform policy and programme planning.
  • Implement further research on floating populations and street dwellers to find out the best model for service provision for these populations including barriers and enablers that are accessible and acceptable to them, towards achieving universal healthcare by 2030 as envisaged by the government, leaving no one behind.

In Kenya, the Leave No One Behind national coalition includes the members of the SDG Kenya Forum, a coalition of more than 40 domestic and international civil society organisations. In particular, VSO, ActionAid, Islamic Relief, Development Initiatives, Caritas Kenya, Polycom Development, Rural Citizen Network for Development and the Association of Kenya Elders contributed actively to this research.


Making Voices Heard: findings from the national research pilot

SDG Targets: Target 10.2: By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion, economic or other status

 Target groups: Women, people with disabilities, young people, farmers, elderly people and slum-dwellers.

How did we engage marginalised groups in SDG monitoring?

LNOB partners convened community dialogues in five sites where approximately 500 citizens, including representatives of marginalised groups, shared their views on the implementation of Target 10.2.

Ways target groups are left behind:

  • The government has made efforts to include citizens in development processes, but marginalised groups are often excluded in practice.
  • Devolution in Kenya has created a structure for citizen engagement at local levels, but the majority of counties sampled have yet to effectively implement citizen engagement.
  • Discrimination on the basis of ethnicity or tribal affiliation, corruption and nepotism are factors hindering social inclusion.
  • Rigid perceptions and prejudices about gender and social roles impact on social exclusion or inclusion (for example, boys’ education is preferred over girls’).
  • Specific minority groups such as people with disabilities, elderly people, girls and women suffer from discrimination in local culture, preventing their voices from being heard in their communities.

What is missed in national reporting?

  • Marginalised groups remain largely invisible in official statistics and data is rarely disaggregated enough.
  • Data on people with disability is contentious due to inappropriate methodology used for data collection.
  • Although CSOs and networks representing marginalised groups collect data on issues affecting those groups, this data is not integrated into the official national government reporting system. As a result, marginalised groups are often excluded from SDG implementation frameworks.


Making Voices Count

National advocacy impact so far

The coalition in Kenya, has been engaging with government through consultation meetings on planning and statistical processes and through a UN-supported accountability program.  The coalition has engaged with the State Department for Planning and National Treasury to influence the review of planning, statistic and monitoring and evaluation legislation, advocating for the recognition of non-state led data in official reporting systems. The coalition also submitted a memorandum to influence the Statistics Law.


In the Citizens Dialogues, citizens had a range of specific recommendations to improve inclusion of marginalised groups, including improving implementation of laws such as the Disability Act, better integrating marginalised groups into those laws, and improving programs to support marginalised groups and their economic and social integration. At a broader level, the project generated a set of recommendations to ensure citizens are better included in SDG implementation:

  • Create a citizen’s forum to support citizens’ strategic engagement in policy advocacy.
  • Promote inclusive public participation in development processes and institutionalise participation and representation mechanisms for marginalised groups in SDG processes.
  • Improve civic education among marginalised groups so they can meaningfully participate and demand accountability. Use local media to heighten awareness on SDGs.
  • Enhance information access particularly for people with disabilities and in local languages.
  • Recognise non-state led data in official reporting in government systems, including SDGs.
  • Contextualise SDG indicators for effective inclusion of marginalised groups as defined by the Constitution of Kenya.
  • Build partnerships with marginalised groups and development actors in the implementation and monitoring of SDGs.
  • Ensure plans and actions are responsive to the needs of marginalised groups.

In Vietnam, the Leave No One Behind national coalition comprises: ActionAid; Care International; CBM; ChildFund; Federation of Canadian Municipalities; Human Rights Space Coalition; Plan International; Save the Children; Towards Transparency and WWF. The coalition is supported by the VUFO-NGO Resource Centre.


Making Voices Heard: findings from the national research pilot

SDG Target: 10.2: By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status

 Target groups: People living in poverty; ethnic minorities; people with disabilities; elderly people; young people.

How did we engage marginalised groups in SDG monitoring?

LNOB partners and a partner research institute trained community members in two sites to conduct quantitative surveys with 400 people and facilitate focus group discussions.  Further, 49 in-depth interviews were conducted with officials (district + commune level) and community members.

Ways target groups are left behind:

  • Ethnicity is a strong driver for marginalisation in Vietnam, and several ethnic minority groups experience discrimination due to low literacy, lack of economic opportunities and awareness about their rights.
  • Women and people with disabilities are particularly vulnerable as they are burdened with unequal workloads and face barriers accessing public services.
  • Prejudices about ethnic minorities, young people, people with disabilities and women impede their opportunities to contribute to local decision making.
  • Language is a crucial barrier preventing ethnic minority groups from contributing in elections, and particularly women from joining in vocational training and finding employment.
  • 40% of citizens surveyed had participated in making local SDG action plans – but significantly more men than women participate and ethnic minority participation is low.

What is missed in national reporting?

  • The national indicator for 10.2 focuses on income inequality, overlooking complex socio-cultural and language barriers to social, economic and political inclusion.
  • Currently, only a small number of sources – all developed by or with the close participation of government agencies – are recognised as official data for measurement of the SDGs, which overlooks perspectives of marginalised groups.


 Making Voices Count

National advocacy impact so far

In Vietnam, the coalition has engaged collaboratively with the Ministry of Planning and Investment to promote the use of non-government data in SDG reporting and to inform planning and policy on SDG implementation. At least one member of the coalition was present at each of the formal consultations with civil society on Vietnam’s 2018 VNR, and data and case studies supplied by the coalition were also included in the VNR which boosted the representation of marginalised groups significantly.


  • Strengthen implementation of the Gender Equality Law and mechanisms for women, especially ethnic minority women, to participate meaningfully in local political life, including policy making, policy discussion, policy implementation and monitoring.
    • Include more women, especially ethnic minority women, in state socio-economic development programs;
    • Train local officials in gender sensitivity;
    • Organise literacy activities and registration for ethnic minority women and women in mountainous areas.
  • Strengthen electoral processes by applying principles of self-determination and “universal, equal, direct, and secret ballot” in elections, including village head elections, to ensure the transparency and quality of elections.
  • Promote local cultural capital such as indigenous languages and cultures through policies and programs. Media information programs and elections should use both Vietnamese and local languages.
  • Increasingly target training activities related to economic development and production to the poor and to elderly people, both of whom can contribute significantly to poverty reduction. Provide vocational training for ethnic minority young people to provide them with opportunities to look for off-farm work.
  • Support people with disabilities to work after vocational training and promote the development of People with Disabilities Associations.
  • Strengthen communication on the SDGs, including formulating messages appropriate to differences in geography, culture and education.
  • Social organisations need to promote activities to attract people’s participation and support social integration, especially for women, poor people and people with disabilities.

Further Supporters and Strategic Partners

Supported by

Get Engaged

To find out more about our work in the partnership and to enquire possibilities for engagement, please contact the global partnership lead Peter Koblowsky at pkoblowsky@icscentre.org


Overall Summary and Key Recommendations

These are the key recommendations derived from our cross-country action towards a more accountable, inclusive and participatory SDG implementation that leaves no one behind.

Summary - Bangladesh

This is a summary of the country action in Bangladesh, highlighting findings and recommendations for national SDG implementation.

Summary - India

This is a summary of the country action in India, highlighting findings and recommendations for national SDG implementation.

Summary - Kenya

This is a summary of the country action in Kenya, highlighting findings and recommendations for national SDG implementation.

Summary - Nepal

This is a summary of the country action in Nepal, highlighting findings and recommendations for national SDG implementation.

Summary - Vietnam

This is a summary of the country action in Vietnam, highlighting findings and recommendations for national SDG implementation.