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Assessing Statistical Capacity & Improving Data Quality for Development



April 10, 2003
Presenters: Graham Eele & Neil Fantom, M. Belkindas, G.Delaine, L. Ojiambo

The purpose of this course was to introduce participants to the statistical capacity building process, to discuss and review some of the main tools available for assessing capacity and prioritizing actions and to introduce the new StatCap financing facility. The target audience was staff interested in improving the effectiveness and efficiency of national statistical systems. The course was particularly recommended for those staff (e.g. operations, country economists) who expected to be involved in preparing and managing StatCap projects.

The course took place during PREM Learning Week on Thursday April 10. The total contact time was 6 hours, delivered over four sessions of 1½ hours each, with breaks for lunch and coffee.


The demand for better statistical data in developing countries is increasing, led by the orientation of the Bank towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, the need for better measuring, monitoring, and managing for development results, and the adoption by many countries of Poverty Reduction Strategies. Most of the data needed at both national and global levels is produced by national statistical systems financed and managed by governments. In many cases, however, the capacity of these systems is weak and they are unable even to meet existing data needs let alone deliver the data to support the new development agenda. Action is needed to change this situation and experience has shown that the delivery of better statistical data requires sustained capacity building based on implementing country-owned strategies.

To support long-term statistical capacity building and to address the problems faced in existing projects, the Bank is developing a new financing program for statistics – StatCap – based on a multi-country adaptable program loan (APL). This will mobilize substantial resources for long-term investment in statistical capacity, based on medium term development plans, or “Statistical Master Plans”. These will be developed through assessments of existing capacity and development strategies, using a participatory approach involving key stakeholders. Most countries participating in StatCap are expected to require assistance to prepare and implement these plans, even if strategic planning work already exists.

Learning objectives

  • Discuss the capacity building process and identified the special requirements of national statistical systems;
  • Review the main tools and processes available to assess the capacity of statistical systems, monitor improvements, and identify strengths and weaknesses;
  • Identify the main components of national statistical development strategies and how they are linked to other strategic processes such as PRSPs;
  • Discuss and review the new StatCap lending facility for statistical capacity building, including the preparation of Statistical Master Plans.



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