South Sudan launches South Sudan Statistical Yearbook
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released three critical reports on 20 June 2012: the South Sudan Statistical Yearbook 2011, the National Baseline Household Survey 2009: Report for South Sudan, and the Poverty Estimates at the County Level.
The NBS is the statistical agency for the Republic of South Sudan. In his comments at the launch, the Director of Social and Demographic Statistics, Mr. Mark Otwari Odufa described the NBS as “a laboratory of statistics and socioeconomic analysis.”
UNDP provides technical support to the NBS at both the national and state level in the collection, usage and analysis of socioeconomic data to help in development planning, decision making and monitoring. UNDP has been supporting the NBS since 2007, and currently has a team of technical advisors embedded in the NBS to strengthen the statistical system in South Sudan, as well as build capacity in the use of GIS (Geographic Information System), conflict and risk mapping and socioeconomic analysis. UNDP is working in partnership with other key development agencies, including the African Development Bank, the European Union, Statistics Norway and the World Bank.
The Statistical Yearbook 2011, which is the third annual edition, has compiled statistics covering conditions in South Sudan, including agriculture, demographics, education, health, housing, labour and macroeconomic indicators. These statistics are critical to help Government in developing policies that will contribute to the development of South Sudan, and provide a baseline from which to track progress on development, economic growth and progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
Mr. Julius Sebit, Deputy Director of Census and Survey presented the methodology and key findings for the Statistical Yearbook. Notable indicators include: a drop in cereal production from over one million tonnes in 2008 to 695,000 tonnes in 2010; 16 percent of women in South Sudan are literate; and the Consumer Price Index which measures inflation has increased 70 percent over the past year.
The National Baseline Household Survey 2009, which was also launched at the ceremony, collected microeconomic data on income, educational attainment, housing, living conditions and key characteristics at the household level. The ‘Poverty Estimates at the County Level’ uses information from the 2008 Census to analyze poverty at local levels in South Sudan. Mr. David Chin Thiang, the Director of Economic Statistics discussed significant characteristics of households and explained trends in poverty in South Sudan. For example 70 percent of families rely on agriculture for their economic livelihood, yet 58 percent of families depend on food purchases to sustain their families. Mr. Thiang also highlighted that 82 percent of people live in traditional tukuls, 80 percent of families have no toilet facilities and 67 percent live more than 30 minutes from a health facility.
Having this information is critical for development planning and programme implementation. The Honourable Kwong Danhier Gatluak, Deputy Minister of Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development underscored this point, noting as follows: “This report will help us to move the Human Development Indicator, which is one of the most crucial indicators for development. We will be able to move it, even though the budget is tight.” The Deputy Minister also read a statement from His Excellency the Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, commemorating the event and emphasizing the role statistics play in evidence-based planning “By providing reliable and transparent data, NBS builds up a knowledge base to guide and direct policy because we know more about what the people of South Sudan face every day.”
Statistics not only provide evidence of conditions and a basis for dialogue but can also help monitor progress and evaluate impact. “Statistics when appropriately managed over time provide evidence to whether the Government’s budget allocations, and all of our development programmes are working to advance the social and human development of the people of South Sudan, or whether they are not. This evidence on impact is essential to ensure that Government and its development partners can be held accountable both to the citizens of South Sudan as well as to the citizen of donor countries – for the effective used of increasingly scarce resources.” stated George Conway, UNDP Country Director a.i. The ability to assess effectiveness of budget allocations and aid resources is particularly important given the current austerity contest in South Sudan, and Mr. Conway noted that UNDP will continue to advocate for use of evidence-based planning especially in this time of limited resources.
The NBS also presented their National Strategy for the Development of Statistics, outlining action and next steps for the Bureau in the coming year. These included building the frameworks to assess and compare data, identifying sectors in which NBS will strengthen their capacity, and developing methods to facilitate data sharing. Mr. Charles Agono Mona, Director of GIS explained that “this [strategy] is a roadmap for NBS and the MDAs (Ministries, Departments and Agencies) to work together in an integrated and homogenous manner.”