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Development Account Projects

Strengthening the regional capacity for statistical development in South-East Asia


There have been significant improvements in national statistical systems in recent years. While availability of data has generally increased, there are still significant gaps in data on such critical issues as poverty, environment, informal sector, national accounts, and gender equality. There is also substantial variation in the level of statistical development among countries and within regions and sub regions in the developing world. This, however, provides opportunities for South-South cooperation whereby countries with more established systems provide technical support, in areas of their strength, to other interested countries. The recent global United Nations conferences and the adoption of standards and definitions for collecting and analyzing statistics call for statistical systems to adopt new methods and topics for data collection and estimations. In a recent informal session of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), involving panel presentations and discussions, the meeting stressed the need to develop a common set of indicators for the review of conference follow-up. The meeting acknowledged that it would be necessary to adopt a regional approach to defining the relevant set and called for the involvement of countries themselves to ensure ownership of the resulting output. The meeting further stressed the need to build statistical capacity of countries through technical cooperation, training, and south-south cooperation.


To establish a south-east Asian statistical information exchange network with the capacity to respond to data needs in the sub region and to support regional training in statistics. This is expected to lead to more standardized and comparable statistics in such areas as poverty, the informal sector, national accounts, environment and gender issues

Expected accomplishments:

  • A critical mass of expertise in South-East Asia in specific domains of statistics;
  • Ensure the development of a common approach of countries of the region to data collection, analysis and dissemination;
  • Strengthen the region's capacity to produce analytical reports on major economic and social issues;
  • Upgrade communication linkages among the region's national statistical offices.
  • A common approach to data collection, analysis and dissemination
    Enhanced capacity to produce analytical reports on major economic and social issues
  • Upgraded communication linkages among the region's national statistical offices

Effects and Impact:

The project has strengthened the statistical capability of the ASEAN Secretariat, increased knowledge and involvement of national statisticians in specialized statistical areas, and significantly improved the IT capability of ASEAN countries statistical offices. The ASEAN Secretariat took the lead in both substantively and logistically organizing the Classifications Task Force and will continue to facilitate the work of the Task Force to harmonize classification in the region. In addition, the Classifications Task Force has provided the sub-regional input to the global review process of activity and product classifications.

A final evaluation concluded that the project resulted in: increased knowledge sharing among ASEAN Member Countries; significant progress on quarterly national accounts and input/output compilation, as well as with the compilation of indicators; greater cooperation and coordination arrangements within the region, broader exposure to a range of statistical practices in other countries; improved legal practices, enhanced organization and resource utilization, improved IT skills and management.

The project established some benchmarks of statistical capacity within the region in 2000, and has provided some measures of progress over the past three years. Many examples of good statistical practice have been identified within the region, serving as models for other countries. There has been a reinforcement of the UN Fundamental Principles for Official Statistics and significant training for senior statisticians on statistical organization and management, and user relations.

There were a number of significant achievements in statistical programmes during the course of the project, including: good progress in the implementation of SNA 1993, quarterly national accounts, input output compilation and aspects of establishment surveys; some improvements in measurement of the informal sector; and improved development indicators. Some NSOs were able to strengthen the statistical coordination role within their countries, resulting in improved cooperation and data flows. There has been a good deal of shared knowledge about methodologies, practical issues, and statistical developments within countries and within the region, through training courses, seminars and workshops, and also informally after events have occurred. Countries contributed significantly to the development of ASEAN in Figures and this has reinforced the need to work towards greater harmonization of indicators within the region. The significant upgrading of IT hardware, software and skills, and the establishment/ improvement of country websites, have all laid the foundations for improvements in communications within the region and dissemination of data to users, as well as increasing statistical capacity generally.