Small seeds become plants that often grow into big trees: How catalytic trust fund generates momentum in development

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Household Income and Expenditure Survey team collecting data for commodity market prices in Porkpa District, Grand Cape Mount County
Household Income and Expenditure Survey team collecting data for commodity market prices in Porkpa District, Grand Cape Mount County.

Liberia strived to enhance the capacity of its national statistical system so it could track the progress of the country’s development. In making an effort to improve the capacity of its statistics system, Liberia launched National Statistics Strengthening Project and the Trust Fund for Statistical Capacity Building (TFSCB) at the World Bank supported the project.

The help from the TFSCB was especially timely and crucial during the Ebola outbreak in 2014-2015. At this time, the government’s expenditures and donors’ contributions on the crisis was extraordinary. The limited government funding was both inadequate and unpredictable, and there was no confirmation of future budget for data improvement in years to come. TFSCB’s support was critical in ensuring the successful completion of project activities.

One of the highlights of this project was the implementation of the first Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) since 1964 and it applied the international standards and methodologies. Another achievement was the compilation of GDP estimates, which is important for providing a clear picture of the economy for evidence-based fiscal planning. Due to civil war in the intervening years, the last fully rebased GDP figures were produced in 1984.

With the TFSCB funding, the country also improved the scope, quality, and capacity for analysis of agricultural statistics. Agriculture is an integral part of the economy in Liberia—46% of total employment is in the sector[1]—yet there was a lack of nationally-representative agricultural data. The project helped Liberia’s Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) to incorporate a comprehensive agricultural module in collecting agricultural data for both economic development and food security policies.

Both the HIES and the enhanced agricultural statistics served as baseline information for the “Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD),” which was launched by the Government of Liberia in October 2018. They also provided benchmarks for tracking the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Field staff conducting interview with a household head in south eastern Liberia
Field staff conducting interview with a household head in south eastern Liberia

This project later enabled the mobilization of IDA resources for statistical capacity building, data production, and dissemination activities in Liberia. The IDA project, total amount of US$ 15 million, is currently under preparation for the country’s next statistics project. 

Looking forward, the country has also set goals for capacity building in its administrative data collection system. It aims to continue producing statistics with international standards and to improve partnerships within the national statistics producers so that data can be shared and used collaboratively. Lastly, it plans to ensure the data are in a consistent format and can be automatically integrated into the National Accounts database.

We are looking forward to seeing the continuous and sustainable capacity building that Liberia will accomplish with the IDA resources and future informed policy-making decisions to alleviate poverty.

 

The Trust Fund for Statistical Capacity Building (TFSCB) is supported by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, the Government of Korea, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland.


[1] Source: World Development Indicators

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Authors

Sun Hwa Song

Statistical Analyst

Masako Hiraga

Senior Statistician/Economist

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