Towards better statistics to measure Africa’s governance, peace and security

Jul 6, 2017

Governance, peace and security can be and are already being measured in Africa. UNDP photo

African Union (AU) member states are now ready to employ electronic data capture on governance, peace and security (GPS) surveys, enabling them to produce harmonized and quality data on these issues in a timely and efficient manner, and inform policy responses.

This follows a GPS survey piloted in 11 African countries between 2012 – 2014 that used a harmonized tool to gather data from the public on human rights, institutions, electoral process, corruption, citizen participation, crime and conflict, among others.

The surveys are part of the Strategy for the Harmonization of Statistics in Africa (SHaSA), a joint initiative by the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UN-ECA).

In June 2017, UNDP convened a technical training workshop in Cabo Verde to further support the use of electronic data capture for conducting GPS surveys. Carbo Verde was one of the earlier pilot countries.

The training brought together 29 experts, including representatives from 11 National Statistical Offices (NSOs), data specialists on peace and governance, the AUC and UN agencies. Participants came from Cabo Verde, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Kenya, Nigeria, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Togo and Uganda.

“The choice of Cape Verde for this seminar was mainly due to the use of mobile devices in the 2010 census,” said Cabo Verde’s Foreign Affairs and National Defence Minister Filipe Tavares. “In this regard, our country was a pioneer in Africa and is part of the reference center in Africa for the use of mobile devices in the collection of statistics.”

The AU questionnaire used for the GPS surveys, and adopted for the pilot exercise, will be deployed using an electronic data capture platform for speed, ability to quickly create summary reports and disaggregate data, and create study abstracts.

Questions members of the public will be asked include i) are human rights respected in this country, ii) How much information is provided by central authorities to citizens on government decisions and iii) Overall, how effective are public security services in addressing security problems.

The pilot showed that an integrated survey tool is necessary to avoid multiplicity of tools, duplication of efforts, and challenges to authenticity of results and data. Using the same training materials and standard operating procedures also helps to eliminate inconsistencies and other factors that jeopardize the quality of research data.

By showcasing the emerging success in Africa on the use of electronic data capture, the Cabo Verde training showed that measurement of progress in governance, peace and security is feasible in a wide range of country contexts.

More than 20 African countries have also indicated readiness to begin the process of generating GPS information. UNDP will offer support through training, survey and analysis of data, communication of data and coordination among the data community during the roll out.

This is critical as countries implement the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 on “promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, justice for all, effective and capable institutions.”

Following a January African Union decision that the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) should be strengthened to track implementation and oversee monitoring and evaluation in key governance areas of the continent, the APRM will use the questionnaire and the electronic data capture for application in the upcoming country assessments.  The APRM was set up in 2003 by African Union Member States as a voluntary tool to assess political, economic and corporate governance, and socio-economic development in countries, and ensure policy conformity.

SHaSA and other African-owned and led initiatives also support the call for a data revolution as a central tenet of the sustainable development agenda.

“The GPS survey helps us to know who is benefitting and who is not,” said Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) Programme Advisor at the UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa. “It can help us identify those who are left behind and those who are making progress. Data, both qualitative and quantitative helps to ensure that no one is left behind.”

David Omozuafoh added that the initiative will help leaders to deal with the commitments encapsulated in the SDGs.

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