Blog: Statisticians Connect for Impactful South-South Cooperation

By April 20, 2021 May 17th, 2021 Blog

By Eileen Capilit, Jessica Gardner and Rikke Munk Hassen

South-South cooperation refers to technical cooperation among developing countries in the Global South. It is a tool used by countries, international organizations, academics, civil society, and the private sector to exchange knowledge, skills, and successful initiatives.

So, what does the exchange of knowledge, skills, and successful initiatives look like in practice? What does it take for the exchange of one country’s experience to lead to impact in another?

Five countries in the Asia-Pacific statistical community have set out to document, share, and replicate learnings from economic statistics improvements. Their experience has shown that advances made in one country can be replicated in another, therefore accelerating and broadening statistics’ improvement.

In focus were significant national projects to improve economic statistics designed and supported by the Regional Programme for the Improvement of Economic Statistics. Improvements in countries where statistical systems are still developing have proven to work in other countries through South-South cooperation. The approaches and experiences are incredibly valuable for other countries in the region to learn from and be inspired.

Simplifying documentation for greater understanding

Projects need to be described in detail and well documented to be understandable outside of the national context. ‘Replication studies’ are short publications (10-20 pages) that explain how countries have completed a project. Replication studies demonstrate the project’s drivers and objectives, data sources used, resource requirements, and processes followed. The studies are easy to read but contain enough detail, so statisticians will know if they have the context and resources to replicate the work in their country.

Developing capacity and communication skills for statisticians

The Regional Programme provided a report outline and supported national teams in hurdling the challenges of documenting their work. National technical teams who implemented the projects joined regional experts at a one-week workshop in Bangkok. The workshop provided a week-long opportunity to learn, reflect and improve initial drafts with peer support. It also opened the line of communications between ESCAP and attending countries, facilitating the completion of the replication studies.

Five national projects documented for knowledge exchange and replication

It has been fantastic to see how the national teams dedicated themselves to writing about their project and achievements. We can all benefit from this. We now have a series of five publications containing information on each project. The process has also been a valuable experience for the authors who improved their written communication skills and presented their work at regional conferences on statistics in 2019 and 2020.

Good documentation is worth the investment

Our appreciation and thanks go to everyone involved in preparing the replication studies. They are practical guides to the steps involved in different projects, each offering an insight into the time spent and resources involved, the findings, and the impact it has had on improved statistics for better decision-making.

To date, documented learnings from the Maldives on reviewing its national statistical system guided the same work in Sri Lanka. Similarly, the Lao Statistics Bureau has benefitted from the report explaining how the Bhutan National Statistics Bureau. produced their export and import price indices in preparing similar indices for Lao.

Investing in replication studies has proven rewarding. The benefits far outweigh the investment, with the projects and their impacts transcending national boundaries. Statisticians working in national statistical systems across Asia and the Pacific and beyond will benefit from reading the replication studies.

Resources: Replication studies