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Development Account Projects

Strengthening statistical capacity in support of progress towards the internationally agreed development goals in the countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Commission (SAARC)


The availability of good-quality statistics and the capacity of Governments, donors and international organisations to systematically measure, monitor and report reliable statistics and indicators lies at the heart of development policy and the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs. In recent years, the MDGs have succeeded in raising awareness of the importance of the importance of statistics for evidence-based policymaking. However, a substantial gap exists between the need for statistics and monitoring tools and the ability of most countries in the SAARC region to routinely provide them.

This project is designed to improve the availability and reliability of basic data required for development planning in the SAARC region, with emphasis on data requirements relating to the internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs. The project is aimed at facilitating networking within the region through interactive sharing and management of knowledge and at strengthening links between producers and users of statistics. It builds upon lessons learned from five statistical development projects implemented or being implemented by the Statistics Division of the Development of Economic and Social Affairs in the CARICOM, ASEAN, ESCWA and SADC regions. All of those projects have been successful in strengthening the regional network of statisticians increasing intraregional statistical cooperation and raising the regional profile of statistics. They have also provided these regions with an impetus in statistical capacity-building as shown by the number of region-led follow-up projects. ESCAP will collaborate in the implementation of the present project.


To strengthen the capacity of countries and relevant regional institutions in the SAARC region for the production and analysis, on a regular basis, of benchmark statistics required for national development planning and for monitoring progress towards the internationally agreed development goals.

Expected accomplishments:

  • Improved organisation of statistical systems and user-producer relationships, resulting in quality, timely and relevant data on internationally agreed development goals
  • Increased adoption of international statistical methods and standards for knowledge management in relation to the measurement of progress towards the internationally agreed development goals

Implementation status:

A study tour visit to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) was organized in October 2010 for all 8 South-Asian National Statistical Offices in the project and covered a wide scope of topics ranging from data production, to data management and data dissemination. The study tour resulted in a better understanding of the inner functioning of an advanced national statistical organization and strengthened the informal network of South Asian NSO staff.

The project contributed to the organization of the 2010 Global Forum on Gender Statistics in October 2010 in Manila, Philippines. The Forum provided an important opportunity to the participants from the national statistical offices of the SAARC region and of other Asian countries to review and discuss new initiatives and data collection tools for the improvement of gender statistics. The Forum also discussed the need for statistics to respond to requirements for monitoring progress towards the attainment of gender equity goals and targets, including those contained in the Millennium Development Goals, PRSPs, the Beijing Platform for Action and CEDAW.

It is expected that two more workshops will be held in 2011, subject to approval by the Steering Committee, namely one workshop in the area of population and housing census data including disability statistics and one on user interaction, data analysis and microdata. In addition, it has been proposed to develop a community website to centralize statistical information and activities from the SAARC member states and improve their data dissemination.