Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, June 9, 2021 (ECA) – The United Nations is this week hosting its first expert forum for producers and users of disaster-related statistics (7-10 June) with participants stressing the importance of setting up mechanisms to ensure collaboration and coordination of work on disaster-related statistics across disciplines and organizations.
Speaking during the online meeting, co-organized by the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC) and the Conference of European Statisticians (CES), among others, the Director of the African Centre for Statistics (ACS) at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Oliver Chinganya, said the forum was an opportunity to discuss pathways to build and strengthen a common statistical framework, including the network of experts among the multiple disciplines and areas of expertise.
Africa, he said, has all the ingredients that are likely to trigger disasters. These include the tough environment, fragile economies, and poor infrastructure with droughts, floods and conflicts being the most common, resulting in millions being affected as well as economic losses amounting to billions of dollars every year.
“There is a growing demand for disaster-related statistics and data in Africa in terms of scale, magnitude of hazards and vulnerabilities when a disaster occurs. Therefore, it is critical that the continent takes stock of the current demand and supply situation,” said Mr. Chinganya.
“At the ECA we are pleased to have this opportunity to explore and examine the integration of disaster measurements with statistics, emphasizing on the need for better data and statistical measurement to improve the understanding of disaster risk reduction, including strengthening resilience and preparedness,” he said.
Held under the topic; Disaster Risk Reduction: The role of official statistics, the forum is timely as it will benefit producers and users of disaster-related statistics on best practices and challenges which will be demonstrated through the work of international and regional organizations that are actively working in hazardous and disasters situations.
The ECA Director said the forum should consider options and modalities for the establishment of a formal mechanism for sustaining cooperation and coordination of statistics related to hazardous events and disasters across the expert communities, organizations and regions of the statistical community.
Participants learnt that the Strategic Framework on Geospatial Information and Services for Disasters was currently being developed. This will increase the availability and accessibility of quality geospatial data and information from authoritative sources for use by decision makers and other concerned stakeholders.
“We recognize the need for better, disaggregated and comparable data for statistical measurement and the need to incorporate social, economic and environment statistics into disaster information,” said Mr. Chinganya, while acknowledging existing coordination and cooperation, and the need for further capacity-building and training.
He, however, said the data sharing mechanism to support decision-making was weak and inadequate during disaster situations, particularly in Africa. “As a result, the many actors and stakeholders simultaneously engaged in response are not only gathering volumes of concurrent and inconsistent geospatial datasets but are also faced with issues of coordination and communication,” the Director added.
He said the situation highlighted the need to find solutions aimed at improving not only the availability and accessibility of quality geospatial information and services, but also the coordination and communication among stakeholders at all levels of decision-making across all phases of disaster risk management.
The ECA supports the main objective of the forum which is to initiate a series of annual dialogues supporting the establishment of a global community of practice of producers and users of disaster-related statistics.
It provides a platform for the exchange of experience and knowledge sharing as well as information on the normative work of international experts, with a view to identifying important areas of work for the Inter-Agency and Expert Group’s research agenda.
Outcomes of the forum will help improve the way the disaster data ecosystem operates and elevate the discourse in statistics and information, especially in Africa.
The forum brought together partners in disaster related statistics, and connected different expert communities, including policy makers, analysts, disaster-risk managers, researchers, and statisticians using or producing disaster-related information.
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