The United Nations is hosting its first expert forum for producers and users of disaster-related statistics from June 7 to June 10, 2021. The forum stresses the importance of setting up mechanisms to ensure collaboration and coordination of work on disaster-related statistics across disciplines and organizations.
The Director of the African Centre for Statistics (ACS) at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Oliver Chinganya highlighted the significance of the forum.
According to Mr. Oliver Chinganya, the forum is an opportunity to discuss pathways to build and strengthen a common statistical framework. This includes the network of experts among the multiple disciplines and areas of expertise.
Also, the Director of the ACS highlighted that Africa has all the ingredients that are likely to trigger disasters. These include the tough environment, fragile economies, and poor infrastructure with droughts. Others include floods and conflicts. He indicated that this affect millions of people as well as economic losses amounting to billions of dollars every year.
Moreover, Mr. Chinganya stated that there is a growing demand for disaster-related statistics and data in Africa. This is in terms of scale, magnitude of hazards and vulnerabilities when a disaster occurs. Therefore, “it is critical that the continent takes stock of the current demand and supply situation”.
Improving understanding of disaster risk reduction
Mr. Chinganya further stated that the ECA is pleased to have the opportunity to explore and examine the integration of disaster measurements with statistics. According to him, the emphasis is on the need for better data and statistical measurement. This will “improve the understanding of disaster risk reduction, including strengthening resilience and preparedness”.
Meanwhile, the Director urged the forum to consider the establishment of a formal mechanism for sustaining cooperation and coordination of statistics related to hazardous events.
Participants learnt about the deployment of the Strategic Framework on Geospatial Information and Services for Disasters. This will increase the availability and accessibility of quality geospatial data and information from authoritative sources. The data will be useful to decision makers and other concerned stakeholders.
Mr. Chinganya further called for “the need to incorporate social, economic and environment statistics into disaster information”. Nevertheless, he acknowledged existing coordination and cooperation, and the need for further capacity-building and training.
Weak data sharing mechanism in Africa
He, however, described the data sharing mechanism in Africa as weak and inadequate during disaster situations. As a result, he indicated that the actors and stakeholders gather volumes of concurrent and inconsistent geospatial datasets.
He said the situation highlighted the need to find solutions that will improve the availability and accessibility of quality geospatial information and services. Mr. Chinganya added that there is the need for coordination and communication among stakeholders of disaster risk management.
The ECA supports the main objective of the forum to initiate a series of annual dialogues among producers and users of disaster-related statistics. The forum provides a platform for the exchange of experience and knowledge sharing. It also provides information on the normative work of international experts. This is aimed at identifying important areas of work for the Inter-Agency and Expert Group’s research agenda.
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