Statistics Strategy for managing crises, emergencies and disasters data demand

Many studies and documentation have concluded that disasters, and disaster risks  , have increased over the years and are expected to rise further. These events along with different types of emergencies and crises   such as conflicts and pandemics, affect a significant number of people and communities around the world. All countries face crises, emergencies, and disasters, situations that significantly differ yet overlap in many ways. These circumstances can be political, economic and financial, infrastructure and technological, health, environmental, or humanitarian in nature and can occur due to natural or manmade causes or a combination thereof. 

National statistical systems (NSSs), just like other organizational entities, are naturally affected when such situations occur and in varying degrees. In these cases, the normal functioning of the NSS may become compromised. Any aspect of or the entire system may be affected and may result to disruption of activities and services, as well as damages or losses in terms of human and financial resources, physical assets, and data, information and knowledge resources. NSSs in developing countries, including small island developing states, fragile states, and least-developed and low-income countries are expectedly more vulnerable. 

While NSS institutions are presumably included in the government’s general disaster risk reduction   and disaster risk management   plan, it is essential for NSSs to have a more specific and comprehensive preparedness   and response plan in place. Such plan should not be limited to disaster-related risks and must also address a wide range of crises and emergencies. The plan should provide adequate guide for the NSO and other members of the NSS in mitigating impact and in managing appropriate recovery, restoration, and/or rebuilding measures. 

A modern NSDS must therefore include a risk-informed preparedness and response strategy as one of its key outputs and a comprehensive risk mitigation plan that includes such strategy to be launched into action when needed. The strategy may include disaster and emergency response, recovery, business continuity plan, crisis management and communication, and change management as key components. One potential challenge that NSSs may face and consider is that statistics may not be among the immediate spending priorities of the government and may not receive proportionate funding. Therefore, it is crucial to mobilise support from the top political players, policy decision-makers and development partners.

Concrete actions

  • Assess the NSS in relation to risks associated with known disaster hazards and other possible sources of risks. Step 3.1 | Step 3.3
    • Conduct risk assessment. Step 5.3
    • Examine existing relevant legal frameworks and policies, resources, and capacities of the NSO and key ministries/agencies/private sector/Civil Society Organizations in managing risks and responding to resulting situations. Step 3.1
      • In particular, assess resources and capacities for protecting and preserving human and knowledge resources.
  • Identify realistic and priority strategic goals and key outputs for the NSS. Step 4.2 | Step 4.3
    • Include a comprehensive NSS preparedness and response plan as key strategy and output.
      • Plan should cover disaster and emergency response, recovery, business continuity, and crisis management and communication.
  • Identify specific actions and corresponding costs, as well as key risk factors and mitigating measures for the NSS and in priority sectors and/or subject-matter areas.  Step 5.1 | Step 5.2 | Step 5.3
    • Assess possible risks, including relevant crises, emergencies, and disasters in the country
    • Include specific actions on preparedness and response
      • Develop/strengthen system for collecting core or minimum set of statistics.
        • Include collection of historical data on relevant disasters and disaster risks.
      • Develop an appropriate data dissemination platform to keep data flow at the onset and during and post-event situations.
      • Design knowledge management initiatives to protect and preserve data, including standards, protocols and procedures in times of crises, emergencies and disasters.
      • Explore insurance options for statistical resources.
    • Mobilize and optimize national and international support for statistics (e.g., new crisis related projects data demand, use of and training on information systems/software applications developed and offered by international agencies, etc.).
      • Request support from international organizations, including civil society organizations, engaged in emergency response on data management systems in emergency situations.
    • Consider partnership with the private sector (e.g., telecommunication companies), academic and research community, civil society, and local government entities on big data, citizen-generated data, and other non-traditional sources especially in post-event conditions.