Achieving and monitoring progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals requires more data than ever before. In this respect, 2020 and 2021 were milestone years for statistics in Paraguay. With a new statistics law, the inauguration of the new National Statistics Institute, the creation of a modern statistical system and a National Strategy for the Development of Statistics that includes the planning of gender statistics, the country is looking to build a statistical system that can provide the data that the country needs for sound policy making. From the outset, PARIS21’s ADAPT tool has been integrated into this system. One year on, what are the benefits of these efforts?

A statistical system fit for the SDG era

By many standards, Paraguay has made a lot of progress towards its development targets. Economic growth has been faster than many countries in the region and this has contributed to a reduction in poverty. The proportion of the population living in poverty fell substantially, from 58% in 2002 to 27% in 2015. Inequality, as measured by the Gini coefficient, also declined by nine points between 2003 and 2019. And, during the pandemic, well-coordinated monetary and fiscal stimulus, including expansions of cash transfers, helped Paraguay minimise the adverse impacts of the pandemic on households.

But in the era of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), countries need to be able to see the big picture of their development progress, to ensure that moving towards one target does not mean moving away from another. Having the right data, of the right quality and at the right time is what will guide countries through this process.

In 2020, Paraguay put the focus on data to drive and steer its development processes. For the first time in almost 80 years, Paraguay approved a new statistics law that created and modernised the National Institute of Statistics (INE), the country also launched its National Strategy for the Development of Statistics (NSDS) 2020-2030, which includes focused planning for gender statistics. This strategy will guide the transition and transformation of the statistical office into an independent institute.

How can ADAPT support Paraguay’s national statistical system

Along with these new developments, Paraguay also adopted the PARIS21 Advanced Data Planning Tool (ADAPT). ADAPT is a free, multilingual, cloud-based tool for national statistical offices and other data producers to tailor their data production to priority data needs.

ADAPT is a web platform that brings to life the National Strategy for Statistical Development, by collating an inventory of all public policies or planning instruments with their indicators and metadata. Through this we can understand, for example, the issue of women and have all the public policies that Paraguay is carrying out on this issue” says Iván Ojeda, National Director of INE.

As ADAPT enters its second year of use in Paraguay, the INE has been using the tool to have a clearer picture of the actors within the Paraguayan statistical system (SISEN) and what data sources are at its disposal. ADAPT has identified 79 agencies in SISEN that are in the production chain or data users. It has also helped identify and manage a large inventory of data that can be used for the monitoring of national development and the production of official statistics. Currently, there are data from 311 sources that include: 116 censuses and surveys, 149 administrative databases and 40 mixed data sources all registered and specified in ADAPT.

ADAPT was used in the NSDS planning session, and the Technical Planning Secretariat of Paraguay adapted it as a communication and exchange platform through the development of APIs. The secretariat’s director, Nimia Torres says “For the secretariat to be able to carry out its actions and fulfil its mission, it definitely has to have timely information and quality indicators and that is precisely where we are going with the NSDS… Currently, we are working with INE so that we can take advantage of the information from ADAPT to carry out an inventory of public policies, which is key for the national government.”

It is also used to monitor the NSDS and make course corrections. Paraguay holds regular 6-month SISEN meetings and uses the ADAPT platform as a visual tool to monitor its implementation.

ADAPT highlighted the shortcomings and inconsistencies of public policies by showing that there are no follow-up tools to monitor whether an objective is met or not. For example, half of public policies do not have indicators and these provide information that public policy makers rely on so that they can improve their subsequent work” says Oscar Barrios, Director of Planning and Statistical Coordination of the National Institute of Statistics.

The complexity of the SDGs has cast a new light on the role of data within country systems. Making national statistical systems fit for the purpose of guiding policy making has, for some countries, meant rethinking these statistical systems entirely. In Paraguay’s case this includes the INE’s legal, institutional and strategic foundations, and it has shown that the ADAPT tool can help all actors to gain a better understanding of the system within which they work. By incorporating gender statistics into the NSDS, Paraguay’s INE can help provide even more data on the well-being of women and girls: a community upon whom the success of the SDGs depends.

 

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