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.

How do we organise our institutional cooperation projects?

Statistics Norway offers a comprehensive cooperation tools aimed at improving the production of statistics in partner institutions. The mix of tools may vary from project to project, but in general, we recommend a set of core tools that we find necessary to achieve the required progression and cooperation intensity. The common denominator of this core is ‘learning by doing’, an approach that serves the statistical needs of the users whilst also building national statistical capacity.

On-the-job training is our main methodology for human resource capacity-building. Support for formal training is also provided in our cooperation projects. This includes courses in statistics, methodology and other subjects.

In relation to building the capacity of a national statistical office, Statistics Norway stresses the importance of building a sustainable system for the standard production of good quality official statistics, as opposed to only supporting a particular survey or census. Our projects normally include assistance on multi-faceted subjects such as statistical and IT infrastructure, statistical methods and standards, quality and human capacity development, dissemination strategies, management systems and budgeting and accounting procedures.

  • Detailed project plans to ensure accountability
  • Seconded long-term advisors to ensure coordination, information and follow-up
  • Supplementary short-term missions within an institutional setting, and followed up by subject-related and coordination staff
  • Detailed project descriptions for the short-term missions prepared by the partner institution
  • Annual meetings with a clear structure and documentation standard
  • Resources for back-up support at institutional level, involving both senior and subject-related staff
  • Study visits to create networks and learn about other institutional set-ups and structures
World map showing the countries where Statistics Norway is doing development cooperation.

The National Statistical Committee (NSC) and Statistics Norway are working together to strengthen the NSC and improve the country’s statistical system. Activities have included support to the NSC organisation in several areas, such as IT, quality control, improvements to metadata systems, project methodology, physical security of data and establishment of an agricultural statistical register, HR and management.

More information is coming.

The cooperation between SN and the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) in Sudan/Khartoum has been ongoing more or less continuously since the population census in 2008. A new 3 year continuation of the institutional cooperation project commenced in 2017/18 and is funded by our embassy to Sudan. The project entails the ongoing development of economic statistics, support to develop registers and national accounts, and technical support for a national household budget survey.

Statistics Norway's work in Uganda is part of the Oil for Development Programme (OfD) and is organised under the Revenue pillar within the Programme. Statistics Norway's official partner in the project is Uganda's Ministry of Finance, and the statistics component is delegated to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS).

In addition to our institutional cooperation projects, Statistics Norway also has a framework agreement with the Norwegian aid agency Norad. The agreement includes support to health statistics projects in cooperation with the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The Tanzania National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and Statistics Norway (SSB) conducted a survey named "Impact of Access to Sustainable Energy Survey (IASES)" from 2019 to 2022. Reports with the results from this survey are available at the NBSs website..

In recent years, our support has centred around some core areas for which there is also a high demand in our partner institutions.

Statistics Norway is the key actor in the production of official economic statistics and national accounts in Norway, and has a strong research department, where the focus is on research and policy analysis within the field of economics. This enables Statistics Norway to provide partner countries with support to develop capacity, not only in statistics but also in the use of statistics for macro and microeconomic analysis.

Statistics Norway has long been at the forefront of using administrative registers for statistical production – especially within the field of economic and social statistics. Our last population and housing census, for instance, was based entirely on administrative registers. Within the international statistical community, there is a growing trend for register-based solutions, and we endeavour to extend the use of register data in statistics in our partner countries.

Together with Statistics Sweden and Statistics Denmark, Statistics Norway was instrumental in developing the Nordic model for statistics on living conditions. This model subsequently evolved into rotating statistics on different aspects of living conditions. Statistics Norway has developed a core household survey system for its partners, with a corresponding model for estimating poverty.

Many international institutions and donors that provide support for statistics in developing countries support large-scale operations such as censuses and surveys that are typically only carried out every 5 or 10 years. These are costly operations that demand a lot of resources for field work. Our approach has instead been to support the ongoing standard statistical production and to develop systems that can produce statistics regularly.

For many years now, Statistics Norway has been an active participant in the development of a European quality assurance framework. We are currently in the process of introducing these systems in our partner institutions, and are implementing standards for developing, producing and disseminating statistics.

Many countries have little experience in compiling and publishing population statistics using data from the registration of births and deaths (vital events), which are often deficient. In 2021 a revised guide was published on how to make a publication on population statistics: Production of a Vital Statistics Report: Guide (vitalstrategies.org)

The first edition was written by Helge Brunborg and Vibeke Oestreich Nielsen in Statistics Norway and has been used in a number of international courses and in many countries. Statistics Norway's work on this is funded by NORAD.

The Guide provides important background information for using the Template, which contains notes and table shells to complete a vital statistics report. Finally, the accompanying Workbook can assist in the calculation of measures and indicators and in the production of tables and figures for the report. In countries with low registration of vital events, producing a vital statistics report can help encourage increased investment for strengthening the existing civil registration system.

The guide is published by Vital Strategies, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, and Statistics Norway. Vital Strategies has had the main responsibility for the revision, to which a number of international experts in the field have contributed.

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Statistics Norway has compiled a guide to dissemination, together with the international organisation PARIS21. The guide is available in several languages: