World Bank Moves Forward in Fight against Poverty in West Africa

April 6, 2016

Grant will improve data collection and understanding of living conditions in eight countries

WASHINGTON, April 6, 2016— The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved an International Development Association (IDA)* grant of US$40.5 million for the Regional Program to Harmonize and Modernize Living Conditions Surveys (the Project). Today’s announcement marks a new era in understanding living conditions in West Africa, with a focus on high-quality, frequent, comparable, and publically available data to better plan, monitor, and evaluate public policies and programs.

The World Bank will work in partnership with the Commission of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) to introduce comparable living conditions surveys in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.  The first round of data collection is expected to be completed in 2017, with a second round planned for 2020.

Knowing what is actually taking place is the first step to alleviating poverty,” said Rachid Benmessaoud, World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, and Coordinating Director for West Africa Regional Integration Program. "Poverty-fighting efforts have long been constrained by data limitations. Without the proper information on how many people are struggling, where they are and how they are making a living, it is hard to design the policies and to provide the resources needed to improve people’s well-being."

The new project responds to a request from the WAEMU Commission to help Statistical Offices in its eight member states to better collect information on household living conditions. This includes information on what people earn, buy and own; where and how they work; their investments in agricultural production; their education and health; population characteristics; sanitation and water supply, among others.

In order to do this, the project will harmonize survey instruments, increase the efficiency of data collection, improve data quality and its comparability over time and across countries, enhance the regularity of data collection and improve data access by making all information publicly available within 6 to 12 months after completing field work.  The World Bank - WAEMU partnership will rely on modern technologies, such as tablets, for data collection and includes a substantial capacity building component that is built on peer-to-peer learning and learning by doing. The project also offers technical assistance to participating national statistical offices and relies on peer reviews to ensure data quality.

By introducing multi-modular surveys and relying on modern methods of data collection, including the use of tablets by enumerators, the quality of the data, their timeliness and the efficiency of data collection, will be improved” said Johannes Hoogeveen, Lead Economist at the World Bank and one of three task team leaders for the project.

The information in living conditions surveys forms the foundation for a wide spectrum of policies and programs. Well-designed surveys are critical to gathering this information accurately, helping to plan macroeconomic policies, monitor inflation, generate statistics, target investments, and improve services for those who need them the most.  

The project aligns with the WAEMU’s Regional Statistical Program 2015-2020, and builds on the World Bank’s commitment to improve household survey data collection with its country partners. In addition, this project will help generate data crucial to measuring a range of Sustainable Development Goals, including on poverty and inequality, as well as progress on the World Bank’s twin goals of ending extreme poverty and fostering shared prosperity around the world.


* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 77 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.3 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 112 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $19 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent going to Africa.

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