The 1st Technical Working Group CountrySTAT Meeting and Training Workshop participants with Mr. Darko (WFP), Ms. Sirra Ndow (UNDP), seated,. Deputy Director Mr. Aba G. Sankareh and Ms. Josephine L. Logronio, CountrySTAT trainor/facilitator.
Musa Huma, Director General of the DOA together with the panel of sponsors from WFP, FAO and UNDP declaring the opening of the Validation of Agricultural Census 2011/2012/
Dr. Amadao Babagana, FAO Rep giving a speech on Agricultural Census during the Validation Workshop at Atlantic Hotel.
Deputy Director Aba G. Sankareh welcoming distinguished guests and participants during the Validation of Agricultural Census 2011/2012 Workshop at Atlantic Hotel in Banjul.
Deputy Director Aba G. Sankareh and Lamin Jarju, M&E Officer during the CILLS Conference
Deputy Director Aba G. Sankareh represented Gambia at the 22nd Session of the African Commission on Agricultural Statistics (AFCAS) at Addis Ababa
Enumerator using GPS to measure the area planted in Lower River Region during National Agricultural Sample Survey (NASS) 2012/2013
NASS 2012/2013 survey forms being prepared for distribution to Enumerators
Ministry of Agriculture Minister Hon. Solomon Owens together with UNDP, FAO and WFP Officials inspected the newly renovated Documentatiion Building of the Planning Services
NASS 2012/2013 Enumerators Workshop at Jenoi
Ms. Josephine L. Logronio, UNV Database Specialst lectures on Database Design and Management during the Agriculture and Natural Resources Focal Staff Training on Database and Data Analysis on 21-29 May 2012
Mr. Odame Simmons lectures on Data Processing to Data Entry Clerks during the Data Processing Training Phase I
A baby was being weighed by an Enumerator during the Rural Finance Project Impact Assessment Survey.
An Enumerator weighing a bag of sorghum during the Agricultural Census 2011/2012.
Mr. Francis Keita, FAO Consultant, training the Market Data Collectors on the Gambia Market Information System (GAMIS) Training.
Enumerator and WFP Consultant inspecting the rice field during the pre-harvest assessment of the Agriculture Census 2011/2012
Farmer being interviewed by an Enumerator at a millet field in Central River Region during the Agricultural Census 2011/2012.

TOP EVENTS

CountrySTAT-The Gambia Launching at Paradise Hotel

 

Speaking at the launching ceremony, the resident coordinator of the UN System in The Gambia stressed that ‘food security crisis gave way forward for the need to improve food security monitoring, by collecting quality and timely data, analyzing it and disseminating findings.

 Thus, Agriculture being the mainstay of the economy of the Gambia which contributes over 25% to GDP and source of livelihood for about 70% of the population and the home of 72% of the poor population deserves strengthening particularly its planning and statistical capacities. Agriculture in the Gambia is the only sure main route to ensuring sustainable food security and poverty reduction’.

In addition she reiterated that ‘realizing the importance of statistic and data in national development endeavors, the UN System in the Gambia had in the current United Development Framework (UNDAF) (2012-2016) outcome one and its five outputs planned to ensure that ‘capacities, institutions strengthened and policies in place for pro-poor and equitable distribution of economic growth, employment, planning and budgeting; incooperating functional donor coordination and national Statistical Systems for effective planning, monitoring, reporting and harmonization of development.

It is within this context that the Project Strengthening Capacities of Government for Policy, Planning, Statistics and Monitoring in Agriculture was support by FAO, WFP, and UNDP.

Among the key highlight activities is the CountrySTAT we are launching today, others included the conduct of the National Agricultural Census, National Agricultural Sample Survey (NASS), Rehabilitation of the Planning Directoate building including technical capacities for data collection, analysis and reporting to name a few’.

The assistant FAO representative deputizing for the FAO Representative in the Gambia at the official launching of the CountrySTAT-The Gambia reinstated her office commitment to continue supporting this very important initiative. She said that CountrySTAT is a modern Web-based information technology system, a ‘’one –stop center”.

She further reiterated that the global CountrySTAT network is growing both in number and scope. The Statistics Division of FAO continues to make considerable efforts in providing technical support to countries and development methodologies, concepts, definitions and classifications used by the Member Nations of FAO to ensure comparability and exchange of data between countries and between FAO and countries.

The CountrySTAT-The Gambia will enable Gambia to make better use of existing data through increased use by analysts, policy-makers and other users. She added that reliable and timely statistics help to better understand food supply and demand dynamics and therefore are an important tool for policy-makers and analysts, particularly in the fight against hunger and poverty.

Effective collaboration between the national statistical institutions makes data harmonization, validation and standardization possible.

In addition, she congratulated the government of the Gambia for its emphasis and commitment to Food and Agricultural Statistics, and the hard work and dedication towards making CountrySTAT-The Gambia a public system.

The Director General in his statement recognizes the efforts of FAO and thanks them for their good work. He reiterated the president’s concern for the attainment of food security status in the country. He assented to the previous speakers statements on the need to improve data quality.

 In addition, he urged the participants to take note of the countrySTAT website as it provides information on agricultural data. He reinstated his office commitment in the support of the newly launch CountrySTAT and task all stakeholders to take it seriously by showing ownership as it is here to stay.

The chairperson highlighted on the remarkable achievement of Philippines’ CountrySTAT and challenged the Secretariat to imitate them for a remarkable legacy registration in their time.

The Regional Director of West Coast Region and chairperson of the ceremony on behalf of the Director General declared the launching of the CountrySTAT.

The Deputy Director Planning Services Unit gave the vote of thanks. He applauded the Gambia Government for setting the platform and providing good environment, WFP, FAO and UNDP were also hailed. In addition, UNDP support for the 1st Technical Working Group workshop last December was also recognized.

 He registered the same gratitude to FAO Rome through FAO Gambia for the valuable support. The UNV Database Specialist efforts were also echoed for the hard work and the establishment of the CountrySTAT. The efforts of the Secretariat and TWG were recognized with great esteem.

He lamented with great hopes that the launching of the CountrySTAT is not the end but the beginning of all its activities. The management of Paradise Suites were also thank for the provision of the good environment for the launching. In his final statement, he declares the Workshop closed.

OBJECTIVES

The CountrySTAT objective is to improve access to food and agricultural statistics, which can:

1.                   Support data analysis and evidence-based decision making;

2.                   Facilitate informed policy making and monitoring with the goal of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger.

The national secretariat is a technical and coordinating body for continuous functioning of the system. They shall provide administrative and financial management; provide guidance and advice on key decisions and issues for its operations.

 

 

 ATTENDANCE

The main venue of the launching was at Paradise Suites Hotel in Senegambia. The launching was attended by cross-section of participants of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Sector (ANR), Gambia Bureau of Statistics (GBOS) and donor community.

 The print and electronic media were invited to cover the launching. The news media include GRTS, The Point, Daily Observer, and the Voice.  The attendance list is attached in the annex of this report.

OVER VIEW OF THE LAUNCHING

The launching was successful. It was a question and answer, presentation, explanation and discussion session. It was a participatory approach and the participation was good. The power point presentation was good and clear.

Participants showed impression on the work done by the CountrySTAT Secretariat and the TWG. However, the CountrySTAT team was task to be more committed in their work and double their efforts where necessary for a better performance.

To recap the gist of the aforementioned, the launching was a very successful one, interactive and participatory. There was a sense of responsibility, maturity and professionalism during the launching.

OBSERVATIONS AND COMMENTS MADE DURING THE LAUNCHING

Participants were very concern with the indicators identified for the CountrySTAT as well as how regular are they uploaded and updated. They were told that the indicators are harmonized according to international standards. The validation of data for uploading into the CountrySTAT is done by the Secretariat and the TWG members.

It was raised by the Ministry of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment whether it is possible to link the CountrySTAT with other similar websites such as the Trade Information Center.

It was reported that it is possible to create a link but it should be formalized and TOR should be develop as to who has the mandate to give certain information. The roles of the Coordination body, Secretariat and the TWG should be spelt out.

Data on forestry products, land use, area cultivated and food balance sheet were reported to capture in the CountrySTAT-The Gambia.

It was highlighted that where data cannot be uploaded regularly, it becomes useless. Where there is a need for secondary data, it should be collected. The Secretariat was urged to maintain sizeable indicators that they can work on successfully.

It was clarified that GamInfo (now called Gambia Now) is an independent website and was developed by UNDP which is broader. Thus, GamInfo and CountrySTAT are parallel in their operation.

The Secretariat reported that the data base presentation was developed by UNV Database Specialist. Prior to the development of the database, she and a local IT assistant travel to Zambia for a training on database development.

 On 17th to 21st December 2013, the first Technical Training/Workshop was conducted at MOICI. The also reported organizing conferences with Rome and were urged to create correspondence between National and International organization sharing common objectives.

The Ministry of Finance highlighted on strengthening accountability and transparency. The representative talked about the importance of performance indicators and that their first priority is to release fund. However, she reiterated that all budget should be able to yield good results. She reminded the launching that management should be make good use of public fund and use it wisely.

 

ACTION POINTS FOR THE COUNTRYSTAT SECRETARIAT

The National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) justified on the issue of reliability and sustainability being key for the newly born CountrySTAT. It was reiterated that development partners should make sure that the exercise is handle with responsibility.

The Deputy Director of Planning Services clarified on doubts surrounding Stakeholders of the CountrySTAT. In addition he said that NaNA, NDMA, Wildlife and GRA will be incorporated into CountrySTAT-The Gambia.

Participants from wildlife Department talked on the importance of data on wildlife population availability. It was discussed that thematic areas will be worked on and adjustment be made where possible.

 The Livestock Department talked on the need to have a Livestock Census as the last was conducted over ten years back (around 1992).

The Secretariat reported that the CountrySTAT budget was not ready. It shall be completed and shared with responsible authorities. They were admonished to plan well for maintaining the system and come up with a good budget plan.

The Secretariat also plans to organize a round table meeting with donors for fund security and support. The participants were further cleared about harmonization processes and the credibility of the data validated for uploading.

The Secretariat should put their house in order and make sure that the decision makers are convinced and are making good use of the CountrySTAT.

Participants also wanted to know how to harmonize the other platforms to that of the CountrySTAT.

 

 

 

CONSTRAINTS OF THE COUNTRYSTAT- THE GAMBIA

1.                   There is difficulty in getting the data;

2.                   National budgets are insufficient and funding allocated for agricultural statistics from development partners is low;

3.                   A problem of mobility of the Secretariat and TWG members when call for meetings was raised as a major concern;

4.                   There is also inadequate equipment for data processing for the Secretariat;

5.                   There is limited capacities to collect, compile, harmonize, analyze and disseminate agricultural statistical data;

6.                   A problem of technical tools, statistical methodology and survey framework to support data-production efforts;

7.                    Inadequate capacity to analyze data in a policy perspective.

 

WAY FORWARD

1.                   There is a need for step down training in regions;

2.                   Continually train stakeholders on capacity building;

3.                   Creation of newsletters similar to’’ Daa Nyeeno’’;

4.                   Creation of a TCP to address challenging issues surrounding the Secretariat;

5.                   Seek funding to conduct the activities of the CountrySTAT;

6.                   There should be proper storage and creation of backups;

7.                   The NCS and TWG should have internet facility to send information to the National Secretariat;

8.                   Equipment such as computers, laptops and data cards should be provided to the NCS and TWG members to be able to report, upload and send information to the Secretariat on their own.

 

CONCLUSION

The Launching of the CountrySTAT succeeded in achiving all its objectives and the Secretariat fulfills one of the key Mandates in a CountrySTAT platform. The NCS and TWG were able to upload 46 tables which is beyond the recommended minimum tables set by FAO Rome qualification for CountrySTAT Launching.

it was also highlighted that efforts to solve the world hunger problem can be approached for example through technological innovations, education and the right distribution of food. In every case, policymakers require reliable information and current data to make decisions that affect the food and agricultural sector.

 Besides, the attendees demonstrated willingness, commitment and support in the implementation of the CountrySTAT-Gambia. The support of the Gambia Government was also lamented to be very needed for the fulfilment of the CountrySTAT Objectives.

 

 

 

Additional information