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Development Account Projects

Strengthening national statistical and inter-institutional capacities for monitoring the Millennium Development Goals through interregional cooperation and knowledge-sharing


The need for monitoring the progress towards the Millennium Development Goal has been an opportunity for many developing countries in different regions to develop their statistical systems and produce better information in support of evidence-based policies for development.

Nevertheless, at the midpoint of the period considered to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, developing nations face pervasive statistical challenges on monitoring Millennium Development Goals, including the persistent data gaps, insufficient use of the official national data produced by both the national agency in charge of the national Millennium Development Goal reports, as well as by the international agencies; and the statistical discrepancies in indicator values that are observed between national, regional and international sources. These issues are of great concern in the international community, particularly within the statistical and reporting community in developing countries. The statistical commissions and other regional statistical bodies (i.e., the Statistical Conference of the Americas) have formally recognized the existence of these problems and have urged stakeholders to take immediate action to find solutions. Key points include strengthening statistical capacities for data and metadata production, and improving the organization of the statistical information exchange among international agencies and the countries and among international agencies as recommended in 2007 by the Statistical Commission (E/CN.3/2007/13).

The United Nations system as a whole has assigned high priority to these matters, on the understanding that there should also be more transparency in the way that international agencies use imputed data. The Inter-agency Expert Group on Millennium Development Goal Indicators recommended producing detailed explanations of the difference between global and national monitoring and related implications on methods and data presentation, and constructing metadata on population estimates used as denominators to calculate many Millennium Development Goal indicators. The Inter-agency Expert Group has further recommended involving the regional commissions more extensively in reviewing for discrepancies between national and international sources, in assisting in the organization of data and metadata exchanges between national statistical systems and international agencies, and in improving data-sharing at the international level.

From the regional perspective, responding to the demand of its member countries, the five regional commissions have increasingly taken an active role in strengthening statistical capacities of the Millennium Development Goals in its respective countries and promoting the collaborative work within countries and regions in order to share experiences and learn from each other. The statistical division of regional commissions have been coordinating efforts in resolving data gaps and discrepancies between national and international sources. A joint document was presented for discussion at the Inter-Agency Expert Group Meeting on Millennium Development Goal Indicators in November 2008. The project represents a good opportunity for the regional commissions to share with each other their strategies and related instruments.

This project aims to tap into a diverse range of communities that have accumulated expertise in disaster preparedness, to strengthen disaster-related cooperation and networking, so as to enable more effective and timely information-sharing and analysis, with special focus on least developed countries and small island developing States. The data and information made available through such cooperation and networks could help to plan timely disaster responses and create synergies with existing databases. The project will also take into consideration the ECLAC methodology on estimating socio-economic and environmental effects of disasters, as well as the need for collecting gender-disaggregated data and information on the impact of disaster on men and women in undertaking capacity-building and technical advisory missions.


To improve statistical capacities and inter-institutional coordination to invigorate the production of Millennium Development Goal indicators, improve data description (metadata) and decrease statistical discrepancies between national, regional and global sources on the Millennium Development Goal indicators.

Expected accomplishments:

  • Improved and increased national and regional Millennium Development Goals statistical production and use, in accordance with both international standards and regional benchmarks, through regional collaborative practices
  • Decreased statistical discrepancies in Millennium Development Goal indicators among national, regional and international sources, improving Millennium Development Goal monitoring capacities and strengthening interinstitutional coordination, within the countries, and between countries and international agencies, both facilitated by the regional statistical bodies
  • Strengthened network of Millennium Development Goal statistical and reporting experts and practitioners at the national and regional levels, through increased interchange of experiences, best practices and methodologies

Implementation status:

The overall objective of the project is to increase the availability of up-to-date and comparable MDG data at the national, regional and global level, improving statistical capacities and institutional coordination to invigorate the production of Millennium Development Goal indicators, decreasing statistical discrepancies between national, regional and global sources on the Millennium Development Goal indicators, and strengthening regional MDG networks. During the two years of execution many activities of the project have been carried out successfully. During 2011, efforts centered in developing and improving regional MDG databases, analyzing the discrepancies between national and international data sources, undertaken research to produce manuals and reports and organizing training workshops and regional conferences on MDG statistics. In addition, regional events conducted during 2011 helped identifying capacity building needs and the actions required to improve the situation during 2012 and 2013. All five regional commissions continued to provide technical support to the countries throughout 2012. Capacity building activities were undertaken and reports were produced focusing, among others, on the following topics:

  • Writing of standardized metadata for development indicators;
  • Production of comparable education and employment indicators aiming to reduce discrepancies between national and international sources; indicators on child and maternal mortality and reproductive health were also addressed;
  • Improvement of data dissemination and reporting, including the use of SDMX;
  • Better coordination within national statistical systems.
  • Strengthening of civil registration and vital statistics systems;
  • Improvement of skills for producing disaggregated and subnational MDG statistics;
  • Encouraging the effective use of statistics for MDG-related policy analysis and advocacy. Among the impacts of the activities conducted during 2011 and 2012 in support of the MDGs in the different regions, are:
  • Wider consciousness of the importance of timely and comprehensive MDG data and metadata reporting among countries;
  • Due to the exchange of experiences, more knowledge accumulated by national representatives on coordination mechanisms and indicators methodologies used in different countries;
  • Better understanding of internationally recommended methodology and of the causes of discrepancies between national and international sources and suggestions of actions focused on reducing discrepancies;
  • More knowledge of SDMX as an information exchange mechanism and better understanding of its benefits;
  • Awareness on the need to start the discussion on the MDG development framework post 2015.
  • Agreement on additional regional indicators relevant for monitoring progress in Eastern and South-eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia, and in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • Improved MDG data use for evidence-base policy making;
  • Enhanced governments’ capacity to produce MDG disaggregated data.
  • Strengthened civil registration and vital statistics systems Additionally in many of the regions there is more availability of methodological documents related to the production of MDG indicators and new MDG databases that provide: comparative pictures of MDG data coming from national and international sources; countries MDG profiles, and; complete metadata.