12 June 2019

West Africa: Regional training workshop on Small Area Estimation

press release

Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire – 10 June 2019. The West and Central Africa Regional Office of the United Nations Population (UNFPA WCARO) is organizing a regional training workshop on Small Area Estimation technique in Cote d’Ivoire from 10 to 14 June 2019. The objective of this workshop is to enhance national capacities in applying the model-based approach of Small Area Estimation (SAE) techniques to provide local (province, district, municipality) level estimates for all Demographic Dividend related indicators. Small Area Estimation (SAE) is concerned with the development of statistical procedures for producing efficient (precise) estimates for small areas that is for domains with small or zero sample sizes. Domains are defined by the cross-classification of geographical districts by social/economic/demographic characteristics.

The workshop will provide the opportunity to illustrate the use of SAE to produce estimates of Family Planning (FP) indicators, based on an experience undertaken to derive estimates for each one of the 75 districts in Nepal, while using the results from the 2011 Nepal Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) and the 2011 Population and Housing Census. The SAE technique takes advantage of the existing correlation between a set of common variables in the 2011 DHS and the 2011 Population Census (age, number of children, urban/rural residence, education, water and sanitation, etc.) to predict values for contraceptive dynamics indicators at the district level using regression models.

All countries in West and Central Africa with a statistical research institution and with recent data on the general census of population and national surveys on population issues are taking part in the training workshop. In fact, the global Agenda 2030 with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 160 targets and 230 indicators, and the ICPD Agenda place a huge demand for data from national statistical systems (NSSs). In addition to the SDG framework and the ICPD, the African Union has also adopted its own development framework – the agenda 2063. Although, there is considerable overlap between the three frameworks, they collectively pose an enormous pressure to NSSs to deliver the data required to track progress over time.

Therefore, it is essential for the national demographic and socioeconomic data systems to be able to reveal iniquities down to smallest geographical or administrative level; therefore, ensuring greater availability and use of disaggregated data to guide interventions where the socioeconomic transformation for sustainable development must happen.

Note to the Editor:

Historically, the work of UNFPA in this area has focused on data production, emphasizing censuses and surveys, and, to some extent, civil registration and vital statistics. However, the use of censuses and other data sources to generate demographic intelligence to inform policydecision- making is still weak in most of the countries in Africa. Particularly, coordination and integration among different data sources are limited and, therefore, need to be strengthened within the NSSs.

To satisfy the increasing demand for local level (province, district, and municipality) estimates of the many indicators that are outlined in international development frameworks (ICPD, agendas 2030 and 2063), there is a need for NSSs to develop capabilities to combine censuses with survey data to produce small area estimates of key indicators that are routinely collected in surveys but not in censuses. Recent advances in geospatial modelling tools, frequently referred to as ‘small area estimation’ (SAE) approaches, have been shown to provide significant benefit to governments and agencies by allowing higher-resolution predictions of defined indicators.

For instance, the efforts to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will require the availability of sex-disaggregated data at the local or community level that address the needs of vulnerable groups in accessing sexual and reproductive health services. In addition, as part of the implementation of the Africa Union Roadmap on “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth”, countries have developed their individual Demographic Dividend profiles with relevant development indicators that will need to be monitored at local level. These indicators are essential for policymakers to plan, implement, monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of their policies.

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