Weak data could lead to flawed development decisions in Caribbean

-Grenada data forum

Regional data administration specialists were told at a just concluded High Level Forum on Statistics that the Caribbean continues to run the risk of making flawed decisions in key areas of its development on account of deficiencies in information at their disposal.

According to a press statement from the Caricom Secretariat, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) official Crispin Gregoire who attended the forum in Grenada, had opined that the Caribbean was being disadvantaged by not having the most up-to-date information to guide decision-making.

“This, he said, in turn, limits the development of a framework that is relevant to the Caribbean context,” the statement said.

The UNDP official told the forum that Caricom risked a repeat of the case of the Millennium Develop-ment Goals (MDGs) where, in the absence of baseline data, it had experienced difficulties in developing plans towards the achievement of those goals. “Having access to data means we can build highly adaptive and sustainable societies,” he said.

During the forum’s closing session representative of the Partnership in Statistics for Development in the Twenty-First Century (PARIS21), El Iza Mohamedou, said that harmonization, standardization and validation of statistics is critical to the Community’s involvement in what she said was an ongoing data revolution.

According to the press release, Mohamedou said that the changes in the global data culture would be evident in the greater demand for data, the modification of data collection and data analysis. “The demand for data will be part of this data revolution,” she said.

Noting that National Statistical Systems and in particular National Statistics Offices (NSOs) will now have to take into account the fact that data collection systems will also be modified, Mohammed also said that “we are looking at new sources,” including “big data mining, satellite imagery, new technologies that would affect data collection processes.” Changes in approaches to data analysis, she said, will require the region to ensure that there are data scientists within the realms of the NSOs coming out of the regional universities and the regional centres of excellence.

“Data dissemination will also change drastically. We’re looking at faster, wider, greater data dissemination and that also calls for micro data.

The role of the NSOs will also change; NSOs need to be prepared for regular challenges. The data revolution will affect communication and will affect leadership skills of NSOs staff and NSO heads, in particular.

The statistical laws will also be affected by this data revolution in terms of validation of the data that comes out and in terms of confidentiality,” Mohamedou said.

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