Maldives released the National Strategy for the Development of Statistics (NSDS) 2021-2030 on 24 November 2021. This landmark event comes after years of intense consultations with stakeholders in the island state as well as support provided by PARIS21 and UN Women.
The document provides the national statistical system (NSS) of Maldives with a strategy for 2021 to 2030 and a vision for where the NSS should be at the end of this period, including milestones for getting there. The NSDS results from multi-stakeholder consultations of the government, including local government units, sectoral agencies and non-state actors.
It summarises the monitoring frameworks of five priority development plans of Maldives, including the
- Strategic Action Plan 2019 – 2023 (SAP), a central policy framework
- COVID-19 National Resilience and Recovery Plan for 2020 – 2022 (NRRP)
- 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of Maldives
- Sector Development Plans (SDPs)
- Gender Equality Action Plan (GEAP)
One of the key features of the NSDS is its forward-looking framework of indicators. The NSDS builds on the World Bank-developed Statistical Performance Indicators (SPI) Framework, which focuses on achieving results rather than capacity.
The foundation of the NSDS relies on five pillars: data use, data services, data products, data sources and data infrastructure. Because gender data cut across all sectors, it is critical to integrate them into all stages of the development of official statistics. The strategy therefore also reflects the close relationship between official statistics and principles like “Leaving no one behind” and “gender-responsiveness”. In fact, gender-responsiveness is one of the guiding principles, alongside inclusiveness, trust and sustainability, of the NSDS.
Looking back at the NSDS preparation process between 2018 and 2021, the Maldives Bureau of Statistics (MBS) took stock of existing crosscutting gender data and corresponding capacities in the NSS through targeted assessments. The resulting report, Assessment of Gender Statistics in the Maldives, following consultations with users, provided the basis for the formulation of the new NSDS. This work was possible thanks to support as well as a series of workshops and trainings organised by PARIS21 and UN Women under the “Women Count” programme.
Looking ahead, the NSDS calls for a dedicated gender statistics budget to be incorporated in the overall budget for statistical programmes and for an adoption of a priority set of gender indicators for Maldives. Another goal is to cement coordination structures for gender statistics in the Inter-Agency Committee on Gender Statistics and to start the preparation of a five-year gender statistics strategy.
Another major milestone this year was the adoption of the Maldives Statistics Act, which laid the groundwork for the Maldives Statistical System (MSS) with the MBS Chief Statistician from now on to be appointed by the President. The Act also mandates the establishment of a novel Statistical Council to provide advice on the work of MBS, formulation of national statistical policies and the development of the MSS. The Statistical Council comprises state data producers, but also academia and data users from the private sector and civil society. This means an important step toward drawing on the combined experiences of different voices from society and a more inclusive approach to data collection.
“As a civil society organisation, we believe that the changes to the statistical system will make data readily available for use to the public. I believe this system will be strengthened by the efforts of the Council,” says Shahuza Abdul Kareem, Statistical Council member representing the civil society.
With the new Statistics Act and NSDS, the MBS will be well equipped to respond to future challenges and deliver timely, high-quality, gender-responsive and inclusive data that will inform policymaking and honour the right of citizens to access and use public information.
“To achieve progress, we must make informed decisions using available data and statistics. Information on climate change, economic development, social issues, the economic status of dispersed islands and activities to foster economic growth in those areas is available thanks to the data we collect,” sums up Mohamad Aslam, Minister of National Planning, Housing and Infrastructure.
“We assessed indicators such as positivity rate, death rate and hospitalisation rate to take the most appropriate COVID-19 measures. We did this making sure the data we received on a day-to-day basis was reliable and utilising it in the decision-making process. This is a powerful example of the importance of statistics,” adds Maimoona Aboobakuru, Director General, Health Protection Agency, Ministry of Health.