Country priorities for data development: what does history tell us?

​Foreign donors can be instrumental in building effective statistical capacity but run the risk of driving through their own agendas, rather than following a national strategy.

To make this less likely, this report, by Amina Khan, Joseph Wales and Elizabeth Stuart, considers the question: what are country priorities and how should they condition donor investments in statistcs? 

The evolution of statistical systems in three middle-income countries, South Africa, Pakistan and Mexico, is explored to highlight the key lessons learned in each case.

The paper concludes by calling on donors and governments to step-up their investments to ensure no one is left uncounted, and therefore left behind.

Read the report: Country priorities for data development: what does history tell us?

1 Comment on "Country priorities for data development: what does history tell us?"

  1. I found the part on NSDS rather weak because there is no attempt to explain what looks like a bad performance: “However, NSDSs can be overly ambitious, ….prioritisation might not happen,….and implementation can be difficult if the strategy is based on faulty assumptions”, while NSDS process was actively supported by major members of PARIS21 partnership (World bank and many others) and “almost 90% of support to statistics is aligned with national strategies for the development of statistics”.

    The key is that donors and countries behave in two different decision-making cultures; for countries laws and regulations are paramount, specially when it comes to expenditures that a Parliament has to approved ex ante. So the NSDS output has to be formally endorsed by government (and not only by the Minister for Finances or the Minister in charge of statistics) and Parliament, otherwise “significant budgetary constraints throughout the implementation period” are inevitable.

    What donors, including PARIS21 Secretariat, used to say to countries: decide on what you want, including a costed multi-years statistical plan and come to use to discuss financing. This means that the plan was never backed by an overall funding strategy identifying national and external sources, this would have forced to be realistic, to prioritise and to review major assumptions.

    The Plans were such that they would likely get most donors support, this explaining that “almost 90% of support to statistics is aligned with national strategies for the development of statistics”; what was not supported by donors makes up the overly ambitious part and faced implementation difficulties.

    The funding strategy must be decided before the plan is finalised and approved by national authorities.

    The content of the NSDS is country and time specific, and the successive rounds should allow long term progress (today based on a 2030 vision).

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