Why provide assistance with statistics?

Statistics is crucial in the fight against poverty. They are the essential starting point offering information about distribution and changes in living conditions and poverty patterns in developing countries.

Since 1994, Statistics Norway has had a division dedicated to helping developing countries to improve their statistical systems.

High quality statistics can contribute to:

  • Economic growth - by providing information that is necessary for effective resource allocation, by aiding decision-making in the business world, by enabling governments to monitor and manage the economy.
  • Poverty reduction - by providing information on wealth distribution and changes in living conditions and poverty patterns; a prerequisite for a poverty reduction policy.
  • Good governance - by providing information for public resource allocation and fact-based policy management
  • Democracy building - by providing a factual basis for an open public debate, in the media and in national decision-making bodies
  • International comparability - by providing international agencies such as the UN with national, standardised information that can be used for international comparisons.

A tool to achieve goals

Statistics tell us how successful policies designed to alleviate poverty are. For example: whether fewer women are dying in relation to childbirth due to improved health care; whether more children attend school when there is an increase in qualified teachers; whether fewer people are going hungry as a result of agricultural projects. Statistics reveal whether our goals are achievable and whether our strategies are on track. Statistics can tell us when we need to modify development programmes and reallocate resources.

Statistics are a tool for good governance and democracy building, and provide information as a basis for public resource allocation and for democratic discourse in the public domain, the media and national decision-making bodies.

Reliable, relevant, and available

Credible statistics need to be compiled correctly and in line with standard practices and methodology. Statistics must also meet the needs of the users and answer the questions posed by policymakers. Developing countries face a number of problems in providing statistics that meet these criteria. They often find themselves caught in a vicious cycle where under-investment in national statistical systems restricts their activities. This results in poor quality data and dissatisfied users who do not want to use statistics in policy-making processes. Consequently, the lack of demand for data means that fewer resources are made available for statistical production and quality control. For more than 20 years, Statistics Norway has been contributing to the development of statistical systems and capacity-building in sister organisations in developing and transition countries.