With funding from the World Bank Group, the government through the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) has launched a five-year project called Harmonizing and Improving Statistics in West Africa (HISWA).
The ceremony, which was launched by the Assistant Finance Minister for Development Planning, Benedict Kolubah, as proxy for the Finance Minister, Samuel D. Tweah, took place on Thursday, April 29, 2021, at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town under the theme, “Supporting Statistics for Development Planning”.
The program was attended by several personalities, including Nimba County District #8 Representative, Larry P. Younquoi, Dr. Julius Sarwolo Nelson, Jr., European Union representative, Federation of Liberian Youth, Liberia National Student Union, LISGIS staff, and among others.
Speaking at the launch, Prof. Francis F. Wreh, LISGIS Director-General, said the HISWA project is intended to strengthen statistics as well as help to harmonize, review and disseminate information on economic and social statistics in Liberia in the West African Countries or the sub-region.
Mr. Wreh said that the HISWA project, which is a major milestone, will help to build a reputable statistics house in the country.
He commended the World Bank for supporting the harmonization and improving statistics in West Africa and in Liberia.
“Today, we enter into a new and challenging face of the implementation of HISWA. It is not going to be easy but with the support from World Bank we will make it,” he said.
However, LISGIS Director-General said the launch of the HISWA project will be a lesson learned during which, the first round of its implementation of the Household Survey will serve as a basic and will inform the LISGIS better on the implementation of the project.
In Liberia, Madam Joyce Nyenpan Ngafuan, who gave the overview of the project, said the HISWA project is being implemented in line with the framework of the National Strategy for Development of Statistics (NSDS II) developed by LISGIS with the help of development partners covering the period 2017-2021.
“This NSDS II, she said, is a continuation of the NSDS I, which seeks to re-build the statistical capacity and strengthen coordination across the agencies responsible for collecting data as its objective.”
According to Mrs Ngafuan, NSDS II objective is to strengthen the National Statistical System “To function as a high performance, well-coordinated national statistical and special data system to efficiently meet the needs of government, the private sector and other data users for statistics and spatial data.”
She said considering the importance of statistics to national decision-making, and knowing the fact that Liberia as a nation is lacking behind due to limited budgetary allocation to conduct most of the relevant statistics studies to produce indications that are needed for decision making in the regional statistics project seeks to bridge data gap by providing funds for the conduct of routine surveys and censuses to produce timely indicators and overall capacity strengthening in the NSS through the establishment of a statistical degree program and at the same time give support to the certificate program at the University of Liberia.
Hence, Mrs. Ngafuan said the HISWA project, which is divided into two parts, would seek to support the harmonization methodologies, data collection, quality improvement, dissemination and the use of core social and economic statistics, while HISWA two project, will also seek to address shortcomings that are not necessarily common to all of the participating countries but that will enable NSS to leverage regional activities, for instance, filling infrastructure and software needs, and capacity.
She said, “For the first years of implementation of the HISWA project activities, LISGIS as the primary beneficiaries of the project will collaborate with Ministries, Agencies and Commission as the secondary beneficiary for full implementation of the project.”
Also speaking, World Bank Liberia Senior Social Protection Specialist, Mack Capehart Mulbah, commended LISGIS, the University of Liberia, and all participating institutions of the HISWA project for supporting and collaborating with the Bank’s technical team.
He reiterated that the HISWA is a regional project covering Liberia, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’ Ivoire, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Togo, and region two bodies—ECOWAS and AU.
The project, according to him, is to strengthen the statistical systems of participating countries and regional bodies in Africa to harmonize, produce, disseminate and enhance the use of core economic and social statistics.
In Liberia, Mr. Mulbah said, the project will support the implementation of core data collection efforts by the country including the upcoming population and agriculture censuses and the next round of the Household Income Expenditure Survey, respectively.
Earlier, Nathaniel Walker, Officer-in-Charge and Head of ECOWAS Mission in Liberia, told the gathering that the Commission has been promoting economic cooperation and regional integration as a tool for accelerating the development of the West African economy.
He said, “For us, regional integration remains the most viable and appropriate tool for achieving and accelerating sustainable development of the West African countries.”
According to him, ECOWAS authority of heads of State and Government reaffirmed its commitment to improving the West Africa integration process while enhancing the effectiveness of the institution in its totality.
He expressed the hope that the launch of the HISWA will help strengthen the connection between region policy commitment and national planning.
Mr. Walker further disclosed that the HISWA project is being implemented simultaneously in seven countries in the ECOWAS region, namely, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’ Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Togo. We are therefore hopeful that the goals of the project would be collectively achieved for the good of our individual countries and our sub-region.”
He further assured the World Bank and the Liberian government of ECOWAS fullest support to the project and admonished national actors to exalt all efforts for the successful implementation of HISWA Liberia project.