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Central America Improves its Systems for Evidence-Based Policy Making

September 22, 2015


Through technical assistance, the World Bank has promoted evidence based decision-making and guided policy making in Central America by improving the availability, quality, harmonization and transparency of poverty data, by helping clients to use poverty data and tools, and by working towards increasing NSO capacity


The countries of Central America face challenges that limit the quality, frequency, and accountability of poverty measurement which affects governments’ ability to track outcomes and design effective social policies to reduce poverty. The challenges include insufficient production and use of poverty data, limited statistical capacity, and low institutional memory.


Based on the World Bank’s emphasis on poverty and shared prosperity targets, the Non-lending technical assistance (NLTA) project identified the following priorities:

·         In Nicaragua and Guatemala: Improve the availability, quality, and transparency of poverty data, measurement, and monitoring practices by providing support to the collection of the 2014 Living Standards Measurement Surveys (LSMS).

·         In Nicaragua and Costa Rica: Build capacity to improve data quality and evidence based decision making by providing training to Nicaragua’s National Statistics Institute (INIDE) on documentation of micro and meta data and by carrying out an institutional diagnostic of Costa Rica’s National Statistics Institute (INEC).

·         In Guatemala: Support broader use of data generated by the National Statistics Institute (INE) and greater institutional credibility of the poverty measurement system by re-launching the Poverty Committee.


The project activities exceeded initial expectations. Specific results include:

·         Improved INIDE’s use and dissemination of poverty data by training the institution on documenting the 2014 LSMS survey in Nicaragua. 

·         Improved understanding and use of the forthcoming 2014 LSMS survey in Nicaragua.

·         Enhanced INIDE’s statistical capacity through the development of pre-census activities by planning: (i) the design and implementation of a digital multi-purpose cartography for the entire country, and (ii) the development of the technological infrastructure to collect the 2017 census making use of electronic methods.

·         Contributed significantly to several sections of the Systemic Country Diagnostic (SCD) in Costa Rica, by analyzing poverty, inequality, shared prosperity, and immigration trends and profiles.

·         Supported INE in the design and implementation of the 2014 Guatemala household survey, and the re-launch of the inter-institutional poverty committee, among other activities. The main results of the support provided to INE included: (i) strengthening of the relationship with INE, (ii) building capacity, and (iii) increasing the quality of the data. 


Through the collaborative efforts sponsored by this project, the Bank deepened its relationship with each country’s statistical office.

Moving Forward

The Bank will continue exploring areas of collaboration and support for the Central American countries to strengthen further the use of data in evidence-based policymaking and to improve the availability, quality, harmonization, and transparency of poverty data, measurement, and monitoring practices. Potential areas of technical support include: (i) continue improving the data quality by providing support to Nicaragua on pre-census activities, (ii) diagnose and strengthen the statistical capacities in the other countries in Central America, and (iii) conduct survey-to-survey imputation in Nicaragua and Guatemala and the SCD in Nicaragua, among other activities.


This project helped strengthening the capacity of the statistical offices in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Nicaragua by improving their availability, quality, harmonization, and transparency of poverty data, measurement and monitoring practices.