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Strengthening statistical capacity in support of progress towards the internationally agreed development goals in the Southern African Development Community region

Background:

Statistics are an important tool in the development-policymaking processes of countries and regional organizations. They are needed for assessing the current development situation, setting objectives and targets for the future and measuring progress and development. However, a substantial gap still exists between the demand for information and the ability of most countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region to routinely provide it.

The SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan recognizes statistics as one of the cross-sectoral areas that need to be strengthened to foster regional cooperation and integration over the next 15 years. This project is therefore designed to improve the availability and reliability of basic data required for development planning in the SADC region, with special emphasis on data requirements for the internationally agreed development goals and the Millennium Development Goals. The project is aimed at facilitating subsequent networking among subregions through interactive sharing and management of knowledge. Furthermore, the project will strengthen links between producers and users of statistics.

The project builds upon lessons learned from three statistical development projects implemented by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs Statistics Division in the Caribbean Community, Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and ESCWA regions. The project will be executed by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in collaboration with the Statistics Division of the SADC secretariat and in association with ECA.

Objective:

To strengthen the capacity of Governments in the SADC region for the production and analysis of benchmark statistics to support national monitoring of progress towards the internationally agreed development goals.

Expected accomplishments:

  • Improved organization of statistical systems and user-producer relationships, resulting in quality, timely and relevant data on the Millennium Development Goals
  • Adoption of international statistical methods and standards for knowledge management in relation to the Millennium Development Goals and internationally agreed development goals

Implementation status:

Most countries still need international support to strengthen statistical capacity building and to make progress in the development of relevant statistics and indicators. The project succeeded in promoting international standards and developing a large knowledge base on different statistical areas such as: (a) Statistical Organization and Management, (b) Measurement of Labor Force; (c) Manufacturing Statistics; (d) National Accounts; (e) Data Management and Dissemination; (f) Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Systems; (g) Energy Statistics; and (h) MDG Indicators.

The project generated three tangible outcomes. First, it contributed to the adoption of the Luanda Declaration for statistics (see declaration at http://unstats.un.org/unsd/newsletter/unsd_workshops/steering-committee/Luanda_declaration.htm) highlighting the statistical needs and proposed statistical development plan for the region.

Second, the project contributed to a significant increase in the availability of data for MDG monitoring in the region. For instance, the number of MDG indicators (in the MDG Global Database) with at least 2 data points for the 15 SADC countries increased on average by more than 30% over the period of the project.

Third, the project facilitated networking among countries in the region through interactive sharing and management of knowledge. The project strengthened the SADC Statistical Secretariat and developed the SADC Statistics Programme website (http://www.sadc-statistics.org/) that currently provides a forum for discussion and sharing of best practices between statisticians of the region.