CDB, CARICOM committed to Regional development through data revolution

With efforts firmly set on reaching targets laid out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Caribbean Development Bank has pledged its continued support to an area particularly critical to the Region’s growth – statistics.

This focus complements the Region’s Action Plan for Statistics (APS), designed to aid in collecting and analysing high-quality, reliable data. It will be one of the methods the Bank uses in the Region. Stakeholders recently reported on progress made in implementing the APS during the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) 42nd Meeting of the Standing Committee of Caribbean Statisticians (SCCS) in the Cayman Islands which CDB co-sponsored.

Regional stakeholders attending 42nd Meeting of the Standing Committee of Caribbean Statisticians in the Cayman Islands.

“If we are to understand, and effectively respond to, the demands of the Region’s development agenda there must be vast improvements in the way we produce and use the data that inform the process.  This includes solving the problems Regional leaders face collecting data, and modernising the systems used to collect it,” said Darran Newman, Acting Division Chief, Technical Cooperation Division, Caribbean Development Bank.

“We also need to build capacity and data literacy, and liberate data to promote transparency and accountability.  CDB is committed to engaging in and facilitating this data revolution and has laid out new targets and indicators for our own data collection and statistical analysis in the Bank’s Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs),” Newman added.

The Plan focuses on developing uniform measurements of statistical data, upgrading information technology infrastructure for the production and dissemination of statistics, and promoting statistical education in Caribbean schools.  CARICOM endorsed the APS during the 37th Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government in Guyana in July, 2016.  Sixteen months later, stakeholders reported having made significant gains in improving their methods of gathering and analysing data, but there is still much work to be done.

Success areas include the production of social/gender and environment statistics in some BMCs, a significant accomplishment for the Region, said Dr. Philomen Harrison, Project Director, Regional Statistics. Collection of statistics in these areas is complex, given the need to coordinate data across several ministries, departments and agencies.  This has resulted in a significant lag between data collection and dissemination, particularly in the case of environment statistics.

Dr. Harrison highlighted key areas the Region must address, including the use of innovative information technology solutions, and the building of partnerships.  She noted that the importance of effective data gathering and analysis is further underscored as the Region seeks to rebuild following the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.  Referencing the vital role statistics will play in the reconstruction process, Dr. Harrison called for discourse on CARICOM Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and statistics in the context of disasters.

Dr. Philomen Harrison, Project Director, Regional Statistics at the CARICOM Secretariat.

“As statisticians, we ask ourselves, what can we do before and after these events?  Evidently statistics ought to play a vital role in guiding the reconstruction process, and in the future mitigating the impact of these types of disasters on the populations of these countries, including the most vulnerable among us, so that one of the key objectives of the 2030 Agenda of leaving no one behind and to reach the furthest behind first, comes to life,” Dr. Harrison said.

Other sessions held at the 42nd meeting of the SCCS included the 20th meeting of the Advisory Group on Statistics, the 27th meeting of the Regional Census Coordinating Committee, and the 10th CARICOM Regional Statistical Research Seminar.  CDB contributed to the discussions with a presentation on using current statistics as an early warning signal.  Key elements included using census and survey data to preempt potential negative impacts of natural hazards on households.