DESA News Vol. 12, No. 05 May 2008

Technical cooperation

Review of women’s rights in Liberia

As part of its ongoing support to the Government of Liberia in the preparation of its report under article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, DESA’s Division for the Advancement of Women will conduct a three-day workshop in Monrovia, from 19 to 21 May. Two experts will work with a government team to review the current draft, identify gaps in content and structure, and provide suggestions for completing the report.

Countries that are parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women are legally bound to put its provisions into practice. They are also committed to submit national reports, at least every four years, on legislative, judicial, administrative or other measures they have taken to comply with their treaty obligations. While Liberia acceded to the Convention in 1984, the country has yet to produce a report on implementation.

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Local government, local leaders in Africa

African public officials gather in Yaoundé starting 26 May for leadership development conference

Experts from DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management will head to Yaoundé to moderate a conference of African ministers on leadership development and decentralized governance. The three-day event, from 28-30 May, is being organized by the Municipal Development Partnership – an association of mayors, town clerks and local government officials – in collaboration with DESA, UNDP, and UNCDF, and hosted by the Government of Cameroon. A pre-conference seminar for local women leaders will take place from 26-27 May.

African countries are increasingly adopting and applying a policy of decentralization as part of efforts to structure governments to promote participation of citizens in decision-making processes. It is widely held that devolution of authority to sub-national entities can not only accelerate local development, but also enhance the role of low-income groups in the fight against poverty.

If decentralization is to result in improved service delivery and pro-poor development, there need to be clear powers and functions of local government, adequate financial resources, autonomy over human resources management, committed leadership, accountability, and public participation. African public administrators attending the Yaoundé conference will be invited to consider how best to achieve these prerequisites, bearing in mind the ultimate goal of reducing poverty on the continent.

DESA’s support is part of a larger effort to build national capacities for implementing the Millennium Development Goals which depend on good governance at all levels. The last such conference on strengthening local government in Africa was held in Maseru, Lesotho in 2006.

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Building Ugandan statistical capacity

National data experts meet in Kampala from 5 to 8 May to upgrade and streamline operations

The DESA Statistics Division will hold a workshop in Kampala from 5 to 8 May to enhance Uganda’s capacity to monitor progress on the Millennium Development Goals. Intended to guide national statistical offices in the production of MDG data at the national and sub-national level, participants will delve into a number of practical methodological and operational issues during the three-day session.

The first day will be devoted to discrepancies between national and international data while on the second day participants will turn their attention to reconciling national data with international estimates and adjustments, improving coordination of statistical systems, and streamlining reporting mechanisms. Finally, participants will hear about the new MDG monitoring framework, and explore data collection practices at the sub-national level.

Since the periodic assessment of progress towards the MDGs started, the international statistical community has been concerned about the lack of adequate data to monitor trends in many developing countries and to inform the global monitoring and political debate. To bridge the gap, DESA and other agencies have undertaken a range of activities from advocacy for the strengthening of official statistics with good statistical governance to knowledge transfer and technical training on data collection, analysis and dissemination. The Kampala workshop is one such initiative.

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Technology to bolster censuses in Western Asia

Innovations in statistical data collection will be highlighted at Doha workshop on 18 May

The DESA Statistics Division will hold a regional workshop on census data processing in cooperation with the ESCWA and the Qatar Statistical Authority, from 18 to 22 May in Doha. Those attending will hear about international standards for conducting population and housing censuses and explore the significant capabilities of contemporary technology for data capture and editing. Optical character recognition, internet data collection, and the use of handheld devices will be featured.

Population and housing censuses are one of the main sources of data for effective development planning and objective decision- making. Recognizing the value of reliable demographic data, the Economic and Social Council is encouraging every country to conduct a census at least once between 2005 and 2014. The Statistics Division is supporting the Council’s initiative, formally known as the 2010 World Population and Housing Census Programme, by developing census methodological guidelines, facilitating exchange of experience, and assisting countries in improving their statistical capacity in census-taking.

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Back office management for e/m-government

Government practitioners from Asia-Pacific meet in Shanghai on 27 May for a DESA knowledge-management workshop

Most government agencies are knowledge-based organizations that rely critically on the management, analysis, and sharing of information to deliver quality public services. Yet, with a worldwide trend towards leaner government, systematic control of information resources remains as great a challenge as it is an opportunity.

DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management is holding a two-day workshop in Shanghai, from 27-28 May, to help developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region cope with the demand by learning from the global frontrunners in electronic and mobile government. Government practitioners, decision-makers and academics will have a chance to upgrade technical skills with an emphasis on “back office” functions in support of policy-making and service delivery.

Issues to be discussed include organizational structures, process engineering, and systems design that can facilitate electronic and mobile government while linking management strategies to broader development goals. A South-South exchange of experiences will be an important feature of the workshop with participants discussing an extension of the popular UNPAN portal to include information on e/m-government tools and techniques in the region.

The Shanghai Municipal People’s Government and the UN Governance Centre, a joint DESA/Government of Korea project based in Seoul, are co-organizers.

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Spotlight on environment data in West Africa

DESA workshop in Abuja will focus on regional priorities such as freshwater, marine resources and land use

A DESA Statistics Division workshop will unfold in Abuja from 19 to 23 May for national statisticians and environmental experts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Co-organized with UNEP and ECA, the main objectives of the training session are to introduce a recommended core set of environmental statistics and indicators for national and regional reporting, and train participants from national statistical offices and agencies responsible for environment on basic concepts, methods and best practices in environment statistics.

Availability of environment statistics in ECOWAS countries is generally low and it is not uncommon for several governmental bodies – such as environmental protection agencies, or energy, water, and rural development ministries – to be involved in data collection. Availability of trained staff in environment statistics is also a challenge. As of March 2006, only four countries in the region, out of sixteen, had a special unit dealing with environment statistics at their respective national statistical institutes.

In Abuja, the emphasis will be on the regional priorities of freshwater resources, marine resources, land use and land degradation, forests, biodiversity, air emissions, air quality, waste, natural disasters, and environmental health.

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Promoting distributive trade statistics

Statisticians will meet in Addis Ababa from 27 to 30 May to learn about the latest standards and how to apply them

To enhance the knowledge and use of good practices in the collection and compilation of basic economic statistics, the Statistics Division of DESA will host a workshop for Anglophone African countries in Addis Ababa from 27 to 30 May. Participants will have a chance to reflect in particular on the needs of policy-makers and the business community for distributive trade statistics, and on implementation of the 1993 System of National Accounts.

Specifically, the workshop will cover the 2008 International Recommendations for Distributive Trade Statistics, the state of distributive trade statistics compilation in African countries, and the challenges and good practices in data collection, compilation and dissemination. ECA’s African Centre for Statistics is a co-sponsor.

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