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.
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.
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).