Demographic and Social Statistics

1. Core functions

The core functions under this section are the following:

  • Advocating for and building capacities of member States in the production and use of demographic and social statistics;
  • Developing manuals, guidelines and tools on various aspects related to the production and use of demographic and social statistics based on standard methodologies that are adapted to the African context;
  • Serving as a clearing house for data from countries for updating the ECA database;
  • Conducting research and contributing to the development of international standards in the area of population, vital statistics and social statistics;
  • Supporting research and analytical needs to various ECA divisions in the area of demography and social statistics; and
  • Providing technical assistance to member States;

2. Priority areas:

2.1 Implementing a Regional Programme on Population and Housing Censuses

Population and housing censuses (PHC) aim at collecting, processing and disseminating small area detailed statistics on population, its composition, characteristics, spatial distribution and organization for evidence-based decision-making. Therefore, PHCs remain the main source of population, demographic and socio-economic data in a country.
Africa has registered a commendable participation in PHCs during the 2010 Round with all countries barring one planning to conduct a PHC. The 2010 round of PHC in African countries also saw a quantum leap in terms of use of technology in the area of mapping, data capture and data dissemination. Despite this progress in implementation of the PHC a number of challenges still remain to be addressed with regard to human and financial resources, capacity and the use of new technology for improving quality and timeliness. Challenges still remain in analysis and use of census data.
The priority areas of work are a) conduct an assessment of 2010 round of census; b) supporting the advocacy and technical work on 2020 round of census; c) capacity building; d) provide advisory services to countries; and e) Conducting research and pilot studies on census methodologies

2.2 Improving Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Systems in Africa

Civil registration is the continuous, permanent, compulsory and universal recording of the occurrence and characteristics of vital events pertaining to the population as provided through decree or regulation in accordance with the legal requirement of a country. The recording of these events constitutes evidence on their occurrence and characteristics of the persons concerned. The vital records are the preferred source of vital statistics and the only source that can provide data at disaggregated levels on several indicators on a continuous and permanent basis.

Despite wide recognition of the importance of civil registration systems, many Africans do not have adequate legal or statistical recording sys¬tems for vital events even for the basic ones that are births and deaths. The Africa Programme for Accelerated Improvement of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (APAI-CRVS) is a regional programme developed under the leadership of ECA to provide holistic and coordinated management and programmatic guidance to African member States in the accelerated improvement of their CRVS Systems.
The priority areas of work will be a) Implementation of APAI-CRVS; b) Supporting countries in undertaking comprehensive assessment and development of strategic plan for improvement of CRVS; c) capacity building through development of manuals and training; d) compile data on vital statistics; and e) conduct research and pilot studies particularly in the area of causes of death.

2.3 Meeting Statistical Challenges in Monitoring Social Indicators

African countries continue to face a number of statistical challenges in obtaining regular data for monitoring of MDG indicators particularly those belonging to the social sector (a large majority of which belong to health and education sectors). The main constrains have been lack of capacity and resources and even absence of clear strategic planning in the development of statistics. It is therefore, important that the African statistical community led by ECA makes an honest assessment of the current situation and develops, prepares and implements a strategic plan for improving the availability of quality and timely data that meets the demands of the new development paradigm.
The outcome of the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development and the post 2015 development agenda now occupy centre-stage in the development discourse. The pan-African institutions in consultations with various stakeholders are developing a Common African Position on post 2015 development agenda. The statisticians in Africa therefore, need to gear up to face the new challenges through countries in addressing the challenges of data gaps through development of a clear roadmap and innovative approaches.
The priority areas of work will be a) conduct research and develop strategies to meet the data challenges of monitoring development beyond 2015; b) improved use of administrative data; c) provide technical support to countries in developing new approaches to use ICT in data collection; d) support countries to develop national targets, indicators and methods of measurement; and e) Implement APAI-CRVS

2.4 Improving Gender Statistics Production and Use in Africa

Gender statistics consist of the identification, collection, compilation, analysis and dissemination of statistics that reflect problems, issues and questions related to the lives of men and women in society, and policy issues relating to gender. In addition to the disaggregation of data by sex the compilation, analysis and dissemination of gender statistics should: ensure that the statistics reflect problems, issues and questions related to men and women in society; allow for an adequate reflection of men's and women's status, and gender roles and relations in society; take into account stereotypes and social and cultural factors that might introduce gender bias into data; and reveal meaningful differences and similarities between women and men.

Although there has been a lot of effort in Africa in the last decade in improving statistics on various aspects of life of national populations, there is limited attention paid to developing gender statistics. As a result, gender statistics are not available system-wide. Efforts in improving this did not take into account the process of mainstreaming gender into the statistical development programme of the countries. The lack of experts and champions in the area of gender statistics has further accentuated the problem. Coordination among agencies producing gender statistics is another challenge that leads to ad-hoc and fragmented approach in the area of gender statistics.

The priority areas of work will be a) support countries in development of gender statistics plan and programme; b) develop gender statistics training toolkit; c) support countries in undertaking special surveys in emerging areas of gender concerns; and d) support evidence based research in area of gender statistics.

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