Region endorses Latin model to boost data collection
Stabroek News
December 18, 2001

Regional planners and statisticians have endorsed the Latin American social indicators' programme, the MECOVI model, to boost data collection and data analysis for poverty reduction policies. And the University of Guyana (UG) has been identified to be included in a comprehensive programme for data analysis.

It was recognised at a one-day regional consultation on the multi-donor initiative for social development held at the CARICOM Secretariat yesterday between donors, planners and statisticians

that the main problem facing poverty monitoring in the region was training to cope with data analysis.

It was proposed at the meeting that the initiative or proposed project be taken to the ministers of the Council on Human and Social Development (COHSOD) meeting in April next year.

UNDP Barbados and OECS sub-regional office Programme Manager, Olney Daly, who coordinated the meeting, said that it was the initiative of the donors, calling themselves Development Partners for Poverty Working Group (DPPWG), who recognised the similarities in the capacity needs of countries in the region for poverty reduction and felt that instead of some programmes being undertaken on a piece-meal basis they could be done collectively. Among those coming together were also non-governmental organisations, the Caribbean Council of Churches and OXFAM.

The aim is to launch the initiative in a phased project on June 1, 2002, with the first phase probably lasting for a period of four years, over a ten-year period. Daly said that it would require about US$5 million just to kick off the programme.

Daly said that the initiative would include universities of the region, including UG and the research institutes across the three University of the West Indies (UWI) campuses; involvement in a comprehensive programme for data analysis; and the development of an ongoing data base. One has begun at the UWI, Mona Campus and ECLAC located in Trinidad and Tobago. She suggested that another repository could be located at the CARICOM Secretariat.

In addition to identifying policies on legislative issues that were salient to countries, she said, the data collection, data analysis programme would also identify pockets of areas in individual countries that would lead to the reduction or eradication of poverty. Based on discussions at the consultation, she said, the average poverty level was given at about 25% per cent in the English speaking Caribbean.

In adopting the MECOVI programme, she noted that DPPWG has enlisted commitment of about US$18 million in grant funds from donors. Since its launch in 1997, the MECOVI programme has been successful in strengthening the local capacity in planning and implementing household surveys, promoting wide utilisation of improved survey data for research and policy work, and improving analytical capabilities in conducting analysis of poverty and social policy in Latin America.

CARICOM Assistant Secretary Edward Greene said that the exercise was timely as it dealt with the heart of what the Caribbean was planning for human resources and at a time when it was moving towards a single market and economy.

CARICOM, he said, saw poverty reduction and poverty eradication among and within states as one of the critical issues, which "we need to plan" for. He said it was also timely because "we are now in a stage where we are planning our work around an integrated framework" which was dealing with concrete issues and investing in human resources with equity.

Among the donors represented were the Caribbean Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Pan American Health Organisation, the World Bank, the European Union and the Canadian International Development Agency. Regional governments, the International Labour Organisation, the CARICOM Secretariat and the University of the West Indies were also represented.