Kvinna och barn i Mali.

Sweden is contributing funding towards the 2009 census in Mali, which will provide statistics to follow up on the country’s strategy to combat poverty.

Photo: Curt Carnemark/World Bank

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Statistics – a tool in the fight against poverty

Updated: 25 June 2014

Reliable and comparable statistics are vital for governments to make important decisions. Statistics reveal connections that make it possible to produce more effective policies. In Mali, the lack of resources has been limiting the country’s ability to produce good statistics for a long time.

Since January 2009, Sida has been financing a cooperation between Statistics Sweden and its equivalent in Mali, the INSTAT statistics authority. Today, INSTAT lacks both human resources and a functioning technical infrastructure.

The cooperation with Statistics Sweden is expected to provide the technical know-how required to build a strong central authority with the ability to produce and spread reliable statistics. This can then be used to follow up the country’s work in combating poverty.

A number of experts from Statistics Sweden are working in Mali to improve management techniques, social statistics, environmental statistics, economic statistics and information technology.

Donor co-ordination will strengthen Mali’s control

Mali is still a young democracy. The importance of statistics in political debates and decision-making has not yet been recognized to any large extent. Sida’s team in Bamako, Mali, is working to change this.

Malin Lundberg, programme manager for Sida in Mali, says: “We’re working for politicians in Mali to realize that they’re primarily the ones that need this information, not the UN or the World Bank. The purpose is for them to be able to continue with their own policies.”

So that Mali can take control of producing its own statistics in the long term, donor countries and international organizations must relinquish their control. For many years, the statistics that have been produced in Mali have been ordered from abroad, and the statistical information has been impossible to co-ordinate or compare over time. Sida has taken a leading position in the work to co-ordinate the donor countries’ resources in Mali.

“In 2007, the Statistics Group was created, a group where Malian administration and donors meet and discuss how we can create better statistics,” Lundberg says. “We’re working a lot with other donors to break the traditional project concept and instead pool our resources and dare to adjust to the country’s own systems.”

Census for 2009 – an important first step

Sweden is contributing to the 2009 census in Mali. As well as updating the number of inhabitants in the country, the census provides social and demographic statistics for following up on the country’s strategy to combat poverty. It also provides information for more basic surveys within areas such as health, education, children’s rights, natural resources and the effects of climate change on poor people.

“This means a great deal,” Lundberg says. “It will simplify the work of poverty analysis. Every year, Mali spends lots of time discussing which data it’s going to use, and whether it is good enough to say anything about the situation in the country.

“We’re now helping to make the statistics legitimate, which can hopefully contribute towards more effective political decision-making.”

Page owner: Department for Africa

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