Pacific Islands Switch to Electronic Data Collection

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Asia-Pacific, Poverty and SDGs, Trade and investment

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KIRIBATI, Vanuatu, Jul 12, 2021 – Between 2010 and 2020, many Pacific Islands and Territories updated their traditional data collection processes, adopting new technologies. Island nations Kiribati and Vanuatu, among others, have successfully transitioned to Computer Assisted Personal Interviews (CAPI), a new data management system, and a survey tracking dashboard. Innovations implemented with the support of the Pacific Community have helped overcome the impact of the pandemic on census activities and prepare for the monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“With limited internet access in the Pacific Island region and the additional training required, the decision to move to an electronic collection process was not an easy one initially. However, we and other national statistical offices in the region have reported a nice return on investment, ”says Aritita Tekaieti, Republic statistician in Kiribati.

The CAPI format, for example, is economical and user-friendly. Interviewers use a tablet, cell phone or computer to record responses. The technology’s auto-correction feature means that inconsistencies and errors are detected and resolved during data entry, making the post-enumeration phase much more efficient.

In November 2020, Kiribati and Vanuatu also adopted other technologies to conduct their national population and housing census. The two countries halted international travel after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, forcing the provision of remote technical assistance. To overcome some of the challenges, the Pacific Community has developed a real-time online data management system and interactive monitoring dashboard for the national statistical offices of Kiribati and Vanuatu.

Technology is of critical importance to island states like Kiribati, which includes many islands scattered across millions of square kilometers of ocean. The Survey Tracking Dashboard, for example, addresses the challenges of conducting face-to-face surveys in remote villages and communities in the region.

“Surveys often require follow-up during data collection to ensure progress. Follow-up of interviewers in face-to-face surveys is necessary because the individual behavior of interviewers often contributes to the quality of the surveys. Thus, accurate monitoring of fieldwork becomes increasingly important, ”explains Epeli Waqavonovono, Director of the Development Statistics Division of the Pacific Community.

As part of the monitoring dashboard, geographic visualization of fieldwork can be an additional way to track progress and potential issues. In an ideal situation, the map-based tool can enable survey supervisors to provide census coordinators with valid evidence of difficulties or poor performance in fieldwork. Timely discovery enables faster interventions such as replacing or retraining investigators or reinforcing problematic geographies with additional investigators. The benefits of tracking census and survey performance through a well-designed dashboard are obvious.

“The dashboard is extremely useful for our monitoring. Cards with red and orange dots really help us spot mistakes. I looked at the dashboard every day and managed to download the control files and send them to my headquarters to deal with errors and inconsistencies in the field interviews ”, explains Agnether Lemuelu, Assistant Statistician from the government to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. in Kiribati.

The tools help improve data timeliness, field monitoring, better oversight and data quality controls, for example, via external dashboards and data quality systems, as well as communication between headquarters, supervisors and investigators.

“The Pacific Subregional Office of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) supports the Pacific Community in the deployment of CAPI and remote monitoring systems, as in addition to promoting efficient and timely data collection, technology can help ensure compliance with international census methodology and standards. This facilitates comparability of data between countries in the Pacific and with the rest of the world, ”said UNFPA Pacific Director Dr Jennifer Butler.

“UNFPA recognizes the value of having tools that can be quickly changed and adapted to national needs while encouraging the sharing of experiences between countries. In addition, the tools can also support the development of innovative approaches to data analysis and dissemination, including visualization of results, which can help advocate the interests of those furthest behind, especially women, women and men. young people and people with disabilities.

Censuses for the SDGs

Censuses count everyone and therefore collect information on important populations, such as people with disabilities. Censuses are the source of data for completing 15 percent of the Pacific SDG indicators. Instead of comprehensive population-based administrative databases in the Pacific region, the census is the fundamental denominator of all population-based SDG indicators. The censuses therefore provide data for 45 percent of the Pacific SDG indicators. This initiative was in keeping with the spirit of SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) as it was a collaboration with national statistical offices, UNFPA and the Pacific Community.

The data produced by conducting a population and housing census are used in a wide range of planning and policy applications, from education and health care to infrastructure and food security. Census data are used in the preparation of population projections, which are fundamental for social and economic planning. The census also serves as a sampling frame for other population-based social and economic surveys, complementing the collection and use of other population-based development microdata for applications such as poverty eradication. (SDG 1 – No to poverty) and hunger (SDG 2 – No Hunger), ensure equal and sustainable access to good health, education, water, sanitation and hygiene services, energy and work for all (SDGs 3 to 10).

Censuses are designed to provide information for policy and planning purposes across a wide range of sectors and themes, which are intended to be used to guide the social, economic and cultural development of Pacific nations. The initiative aims to leave no one behind.

Data is not evidence until it is in a useful format and in the hands of decision makers, whether for policy development, prioritization of resource allocation, or intervention design. program. Only then does the importance of timely, high-quality data become evident. The Pacific Community, with support from UNFPA, hopes to accelerate the process of getting data into good hands by continuing to build on these early achievements.

Source: The Pacific Community (SPC)


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