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Reliable Data for Better Social Policies in OECS Countries

April 15, 2014


The World Bank worked with the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) from 2011 to 2013 to develop reliable poverty and socio-economic data that can be used to establish and measure social policies. The OECS region established the Living Standards Measurement Committee, a statistical body to inform statistical coordination and discussion, and agreed upon a broad vision of a harmonized program of statistics and survey data, consolidated under the Sustainable Household Data Collection Program for the Measurement of Living Standards. Regional statistical capacity has also been enhanced as a result of extensive technical assistance and capacity building activities.

Challenge

In 2011, prior to the start of this Non-Lending Technical Assistance (NLTA) program, the countries belonging to the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) faced a serious shortage of poverty and socio-economic data and indicators; and lacked the basis to undertake evidence-based analysis of socio-economic conditions and, as a result, to adopt and monitor policies to reduce poverty and inequality effectively. The problem of household data availability and reliability has been a reflection of the larger problem of statistical scarcity and weak statistical institutions that characterize most Caribbean countries. In general, the collection of poverty and socio-economic data has received lower priority from the governments of the OECS and has largely been funded by external donors. In many instances the National Statistical Offices have contracted out much of the data collection and analysis due to limited capacity and resources.

Solution

This technical assistance project evolved in response to the above described challenges faced by the OECS member states. In particular, the medium term objectives of this NLTA can be classified into three categories:

(1) to support the OECS in the production of harmonized regional household surveys representative at the national level, at regular intervals, and following best international quality standards;

(2) to use these data to promote timely analyses of poverty and inequality in the OECS which are relevant for policy formulation and enjoy strong country ownership; and

(3) to promote the creation of a regional statistical office, ideally within the OECS Secretariat, through analysis and discussion of the institutional and organizational issues involved.

Results

The first objective of this NLTA was achieved through:

(1) the conceptualization of a broad vision of a harmonized program of statistics and survey data embodied by the endorsement of the Sustainable Household Data Collection Program for the Measurement of Living Standards (SDP) by the six member states;

(2) the support for the development of a Harmonized Labor Force Survey (LFS) for the OECS, which was first piloted in Grenada in 2010;

(3) the piloting in St Lucia of the new Computer-Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) software for the harmonized LFS, which took place in March-April 2012; and

(4) the Conceptualization of a regional Labor Market Information System (LMIS) in 2012.

To achieve the second objective of this NLTA, the Living Standard Measurement Committee (LSMC), a body of statistical coordination and discussion, was successfully convened in October 2011. The LSMC is composed of key stakeholders, such as representatives of the OECS Secretariat, Directors of the National Statistical Offices (NSOs) from each of the member states, and development partners, who are invited to participate when pertinent. Moreover, NSOs were also empowered by capacity building efforts in the form of a series of technical trainings and workshops (listed below).

  • Skills Assessment in OECS member states NSOs, January-February 2012, St Lucia, Grenada, St Vincent, St. Kitts, Dominica and Antigua
  • E-learning modules on statistical methods for household surveys, 2012, OECS Member States.
  • E-learning modules on poverty and inequality measurement, 2012, OECS Member States.
  • Face-to-face workshop -The Multi-Topic Household Surveys course, April 2012, OECS Member States.
  • Face-to-face workshop - Poverty and Inequality Measurement, July 2012, OECS Member States.
  • Participation in South-South knowledge exchange forum for poverty measurement, April 2012, OECS Member States.
  • South-South Knowledge Exchange to Support to the Living Standard Measurement Committee, 2012, OECS Member States.

Lastly, to achieve the third objective of this project, through a client-executed trust-fund (closed in 2012) this project supported the OECS Secretariat in the assessment phase of the Regional Strategy for the Development of Statistics (RSDS).


Bank Group Contribution

These activities were largely financed by three trust funds: US$500K from the Rapid Social Response Program; US$345K from the Trust Fund for Statistical Capacity Building; and

US$44K from the South-South Experience Exchange on Creating and Sustaining Poverty Committees in Latin America and the OECS.

The Bank financed a cumulative amount of $267,521 in FY12 and FY13: $73,275 was spent to supervise the TFSCB (which was recipient executed). $258,773 BB was spent in FY12 and FY13 for the NLTA. $8,748 has been spent this Fiscal Year.

Partners

This work was mainly conducted by the OECS Secretariat and the International Labor Organization (ILO), with additional European Union (EU) funding.

Moving Forward

The next steps are:

  • to support the OECS Secretariat in coordinating the statistics agenda and to promote collaboration with the LSMC;
  • to provide technical assistance to process and analyze existing sources of data;
  • to improve the quality and availability of data;  and
  • to seek funding for/to support the implementation of the SDP.

Due to limited technical capacity in the region, successful implementation of the SDP process must be accompanied with intense technical assistance and close coordination with other donors.

Beneficiaries

The OECS region now possesses a body of statistical coordination and discussion, the Living Standards Measurement Committee (LSMC), and a broad vision of a harmonized program of statistics and survey data, the OECS Sustainable Household Data Collection Program for the Measurement of Living Standards (SDP). Similarly, the regional statistical capacity has also been enhanced as a result of extensive TA and capacity building activities, and the support of the development and adoption of the harmonized Labor Force Survey (LFS).