WASHINGTON, Commonly seen as a tedious profession, removed from the daily problems of citizens, the management of statistics and censuses can have a great impact on the opportunities for improving the quality of public policies and those related to development. Because of that, the World Bank awarded the most innovative Latin America and the Caribbean programs that participated in the Second Regional Statistical Innovation Competition.
The National Household Survey, carried out by Peru’s National Statistical and IT Institute (INEI) was awarded the first prize in the region. This is the top survey in terms of studying living conditions. The design of its questionnaire allows for the study of different poverty dimensions and incorporates issues such as citizen participation, social programs, governance, corruption, democracy, informality, IT and anthropometry.
In a group comprised of 16 finalists, programs from Peru, Brazil and Mexico were the winners at a regional level. In this edition, programs from Panama, Costa Rica and Guatemala were also given prizes, as well as from Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic and St. Lucia, recognizing the efforts undertaken in Central America and the Caribbean in terms of statistics, given that almost 50 percent of the contestants came from both regions, compared to less than 20 percent in the 2007-2008 competition.
“The World Bank wants to recognize the silent statistical revolution that is taking place in Latin America and the Caribbean. We want to maintain this strategic partnership with all the regional experts on this field, which perform a key service for development,” said Marcelo Giugale, World Bank Economic Policy and Poverty Reduction Program Director for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), during the award ceremony.
The second regional prize went to the Market Expectations System of Brazil’s Central Bank. This is a crucial tool for the monetary policy framework, as data collected through this online system is then shown at monetary policy meetings and is also used to forecast inflation trends through quantitative models. The system is innovative because it allows online tracking of macroeconomic expectations.
The third place was awarded to two initiatives, one from Brazil and one from Mexico. The Municipal Basic Data Survey, created by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), seeks to provide a constant supply of disaggregated municipal data on local public administrations. The information gathered with it has been an essential tool for the elaboration and implementation of public policies, at the state and federal level, as well as in the implementation of efficient sector policies based on local dynamics. The local knowledge and learning obtained with this data will allow users to understand the country’s structural heterogeneity and make a more efficient use of its wealth for social and economic advancement.
The Mexican initiative is the National survey on Time Usage, created by Mexico’s National Statistical and Geography Institute (INEGI). This survey reduced budgetary costs by 10 percent after implementing the Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing system, which enables online data validation while the interview is taking place. The survey also provides information on the domestic production of households, showing the differentiated contribution that men and women make to the economy, which then sustains and directs public policies aimed at promoting and developing the quality of life.
In the Central American sub-region, first place went to the Health Statistics Information System of Panama’s Health Ministry, which sends data through a digitalized statistical data system, which is then used as a timely and consistent basis for analysis and research.
Second place went to the 2008 Directory of Institutional Units and Establishments, from Costa Rica’s National Statistics and Censuses Institute. This directory allows the development of new surveys based on a sound structural framework that will be permanently updated. Its technology allows the combination of three sources of information and the preservation of data quality.
Third place went to the 2006 Living Conditions Survey, carried out by the National Statistics Institute of Guatemala. The information from the survey has been essential in decision making processes and to establish the foundations of public policies aimed at benefitting the poorest. In order to carry it out, an Inter-institutional Committee of both the public and private sectors was established.
First place for the Caribbean sub-region went to Eurotrace applied to Trinidad and Tobago’s trade statistics, created by that country’s Central Statistics Office. This program significantly reduced the response time for data requests from local and foreign users. The implementation of the project created a strategic partnership that facilitates cooperation between diverse agencies.
The 2007 National Household Income and Spending Survey of the Dominican Republic’s Statistical Office obtained second place. Carried out with transparency and comprehensiveness throughout the process, the data obtained with it allowed users to investigate household income, measure spending and break down its destination at the product level. It included a participative radial campaign.
Third place went to the Statistical Mapping of St. Lucia’s Central Statistical Office. This application improves the Census’ data usage efficiency in order to geographically localize the poor with high precision. Information can be seen in multiple ways through digital and dynamic maps and it permits planning for community development, among other things.
The jury awarded six honorary mentions to programs showing an outstanding level of innovation:
* Victimization Survey, from the Crime, Institutions and Policy Research Laboratory (Argentina)
* Health Statistics – Medical Healthcare Assistance, IBGE (Brazil)
* 2008 Quality of Life Survey, National Statistical Administrative Department (Colombia)
* Regional Strategic Information Center, Aguascalientes State Government (Mexico)
* 2007 Dengue Fever Census, General Directorate of Statistics, Surveys and Censuses (Paraguay)
* National Demography and Health Survey, INEI, (Peru)
177 programs from 26 countries participated in the competition, divided in three categories: censuses, surveys and administrative records. Finalists attended a workshop on data programs in this capital.