Natural Resource Protection Indicator (NRPI) and Child Health Indicator (CHI), Preliminary 2020 Release

Since 2006, CIESIN has been calculating two metrics that are used as criteria for country selection for funding from the U.S. government's Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC): a Natural Resource Protection Indicator (NRPI) and a Child Health Indicator (CHI). The indicators, which were calculated with support from the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), are defined as follows:
  1. The Natural Resource Protection Indicator assesses whether a country is protecting at least 17% of all of its biomes (e.g. deserts, forests, grasslands, aquatic, and tundra). The indicator is a weighted average of the percent of each biome protected, with larger biomes accorded greater weight. It is designed to capture the comprehensiveness of a government's commitment to habitat preservation and biodiversity protection. World Wildlife Fund provide the underlying biome data, and the United Nations Environment Program World Conservation Monitoring Center (WCMC) provide the underlying data on protected areas.
  2. The Child Health Indicator is comprised of three underlying indicators:
    • Access to At Least Basic Sanitation. Produced by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), access to at least basic sanitation includes the population using improved sanitation methods that are not shared. Improved sanitation methods comprise flush or pour-flush to piped sewer system, septic tank, or pit latrine; ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrine; pit latrine with slab; or composting toilet.
    • Access to At Least Basic Water. Produced by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), access to at least basic water includes the population using improved drinking water sources which require less than 30 minutes for collection. Improved drinking water sources comprise piped water into dwelling, yard or plot; public tap or standpipe; tubewell or borehole; protected spring; protected dug well; or rainwater collection.
    • Child Mortality (Ages 1–4 – i.e., from age of 1 to exact age 5). Produced by the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation, this indicator represents the probability of dying between 1 and 4 years of age, expressed per 1,000 children age 1 (4q1). Because the causes of child mortality among 1–4 year olds are strongly influenced by environmental causes, this indicator is considered to be a useful proxy for underlying environmental conditions.

The 2020 NRPI and CHI data are available in an Excel Workbook.

Prior releases of the NRMI and the NRPI/CHI are available via the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC).


More detailed methods can be found on the SEDAC Web site.

All indicators are computed as a standardized proximity-to-target ranging from 0 (worst performance) to 100 (at target or best performance).

The Child Health Index is calculated as follows. For Access to At Least Basic Sanitation and Access to At Least Basic Water, the proximity-to-target measure is equal to the reported percentage. For example, if a country has 84% of its population with access to adequate sanitation, it is considered to have a proximity-to-target score of 84. For child mortality, we compute the ratio of the measured probability of dying in a given country to the highest observed probability of dying in each year. To calculate the child mortality proximity-to-target score, it is necessary to have a benchmark for the highest reported child mortality as a worst performance lower bound. In the time series data reported by the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME) between 2010 and 2018, Haiti had the highest reported mortality rate between ages 1 and 4 (4q1), at 134.6 per 1,000, owing to the exceptionally high mortality during the 2010 Earthquake. Because this was an exceptional event that killed an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 people, it did not seem appropriate to use that as the highest reported mortality rate. Chad was then chosen as the next highest reported rate in 2010, since Chad’s rate of 70.03 per 1,000 in 2010, was consistent with the time series of child mortality data reported for the country. The formula for calculation is as follows: 100 - ((country value) / 70.03) * 100). For example, a country whose children in the 1-5 age group have a probability of dying of 43.3 per 1000, therefore it would have a proximity-to-target score of 38.2 (or 100 - ((43.3/70.03) * 100)).

For Natural Resource Protection, all scores by biome are capped at 17%, which is the target established at the 10th Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (Nagoya, Japan). The scores are capped so that greater than 17% protection in a given biome does not offset less than 17% protection in another biome. Since the range of protection levels across all countries is from 0–17%, the proximity to target scores is then calculated as the ratio of the weighted biome protection percentage to 17%, multiplied by 100. Thus, a country with 5% weighted biome protection would be calculated as follows: 5/17 = 0.29411; 0.29411 x 100 = 29.41.

Protected areas in the World Database on Protected Areas (WPDA) were excluded based on three criteria:

  1. Sites with a STATUS of 'Proposed' and 'Not Reported'. These sites cannot be treated definitely as protected areas.
  2. Sites without boundaries (points) without a REP_AREA value. These sites are often removed automatically depending on how you treat them.
  3. Sites with a DESIG value of 'UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve'. These sites have an uncertain boundary due to the three-tiered nesting of the MAB sites, only the innermost tier of which is widely regarded as a PA, but in the WDPA it is unclear what tier the boundaries represent. These sites also do not typically have an IUCN management category.
In addition, protected area polygons with less than 25% of their area on land were considered marine and did not count toward the NRPI score because we assume that their primary purpose is marine and not terrestrial biodiversity protection.


Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), Columbia University. 2020. Natural Resource Protection and Child Health Indicators, 2020 Release (preliminary). Palisades, NY: CIESIN. Accessed DAY MONTH YEAR.


This is a preliminary open data release. Over the coming months, data curation will be completed by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) and the data will be disseminated through the SEDAC catalog.