Africa’s poverty fight boosted by UN data, information project


I am happy to share with you information on an ambitious UN project, CountrySTAT, which is expected to revolutionise access to statistics for improved analysis, decision-making and monitoring. 


CountrySTAT is a Web-based information technology system for food and agricultural statistics at the national and sub-national levels. 


It gives decision-makers access to statistics across thematic areas such as production, prices, trade and consumption which supports analysis, informed policy-making and monitoring, with the goal of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger. 



Through national and regional CountrySTAT projects, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the UN forms partnerships with statistical offices and the ministries of agriculture, fisheries and forestry, among others, to introduce the system and build national capacity to use it. 



In each country, the national Government makes a substantial contribution to ensure its deployment and continued training and maintenance. 


CountrySTAT for Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is a project partnership between the FAO country statistics information system and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, intended to substantially improve the quality, accessibility, relevance and reliability of the national statistics on food and agriculture in 17 sub-Saharan African countries. 



The countries are Zambia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda. 



Others are Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote D'Ivoire, Mali, Rwanda and Senegal. 



The idea is to harmonise and integrate sub-national data on food and agriculture within and between these countries, through the implementation of a centralised and standardised database framework, data exchange platform and set of analysis tools. 



In so doing, it will facilitate planning and decision-making by policy makers and analysts, particularly in the push to reduce hunger and poverty. 



CountrySTAT is a statistical and technical framework to organise, harmonise and synchronise data collections in food and agriculture for informed analysis and policy making. 



Its goals and objectives are; to bring about accelerated reduction in hunger and poverty through more productive and sustainable agriculture and build an effective programme for handling interconnected statistical information and visual indicators on food and agriculture at sub-national, national, and international levels in line with the world food summit and Millennium Development Goals, especially in the context of reducing extreme poverty and hunger. 



In the short term, the beneficiaries of the CountrySTAT programme are users of food and agricultural statistics who will have easy access to standardised quality statistics. Producers of food and agricultural statistics can harmonise and smoothly publish their national and sub-national statistics. 



In the medium term, decision makers will have standardised statistics as a basis for evidence-based, successful analysis and policy-making, while in the long term, small-scale farmers will have improved investment, production and marketing regulations, as a result of improved policy decisions. 



Consumers, women, youth and the rural poor will benefit from the improved and affordable national food supply. 



CountrySTAT for sub-Saharan Africa is a special, privately-funded project within the FAO country statistics information system, to substantially improve the quality, accessibility, relevance and reliability of national statistics on food and agriculture in the 17 SSA countries. 



As such, it will facilitate planning and decision-making by policy makers and analysts, particularly in the fight against hunger and poverty. 


The programme will help Zambia to address food security and achieve its goal of reducing hunger and poverty, through improved access to statistics for analysis and decision-making. 



It will therefore contribute to the country's efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of reducing hunger and poverty, which is also central in both the Sixth National Development Plan (SNDP) and Vision 2030. 



As Mweemba Chijoka, a fisheries statistician put it, the programme is ‘very beneficial' and will help in decision-making because of the availability and accessibility of the much-needed information. 



"It will give ordinary people an idea of the potential of the fisheries sector, such as how much we are able to export. 


In terms of reducing hunger and poverty, it will motivate decision makers because they will have all the information on their fingertips," Mr Chijoka says. 


Senior economist in the Policy and Planning Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives Dingiswayo Banda, is confident that the programme is going to improve on wider and efficient dissemination of agricultural statistics. 


Mr Banda says: "The programme will also help to make information available to ordinary people, more importantly for farmers to access market information. 


"In terms of reducing hunger and poverty, it will provide information on key food security indicators at national, provincial and district levels."


It is always said that information is power. The CountrySTAT programme provides the power needed by policy makers to make informed decisions in order to improve food security and reduce hunger and poverty.