National Strategy for the development of statistics for fragile states

The Agenda 2030 has placed fragile states   among the intended beneficiaries of the sustainable development goal   (SDG) 16 – “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”.

Fragile states are generally characterized as having weak capacity for basic governance functions and for engaging in mutually constructive relations with the larger society. As such, they are more vulnerable to internal or external shocks such as economic crises or natural disasters. Fragile states are diverse and comprise a wide range of countries and economies. While many of these countries share the common denominator of being poor, poverty alone does not equate to their fragility. 

Fragility is a more universal character that can affect all countries, not only those traditionally considered “fragile” or conflict-affected. In order to define which countries are considered fragile, some indicators of fragility and vulnerability were previously identified from political, social, economic and environmental perspectives. In the context of the Agenda 2030, a new approach to fragility has been defined one that applies to all countries and relies on five dimensions: (a) violence; (b) justice; (c) accountable and inclusive institutions; (d) economic inclusion and stability; and (e) capacity to adapt to social, economic and environmental shocks and disasters.

In times of crises or post-crisis situations, the normal functioning of the ‘national statistical system’ in fragile states becomes compromised. The crises may affect any aspect of or the entire system and may result to damages or losses in terms of human and financial resources, physical assets, and information and knowledge resources. Statistics may also be competing with other government priorities and more often than not might take a backseat in terms of budget allocation. It is important to mobilise political support to rebuild the national statistical system to inform the design and monitoring of national recovery and development strategies.

The design of the NSDS in fragile states therefore needs to take into account the risks associated with the sources of fragility and vulnerability and include a mitigation strategy to manage the impact of crisis and post-crisis situations. The preparation of the NSDS depends largely on the context that is prevailing in the country. While there are two scenarios to consider depending which situation a fragile state is currently in, both are essential and should be integrated in the NSDS.


The NSDS should include strategies that will focus on restoring the basic features of the national statistical system in a post-crisis situation and upon return to normal conditions or the ‘new normal’. Depending upon the extent of loss or damage during the crisis, the NSDS should be able to provide for the functioning of essential human resources and reconstructing basic physical resources at the initial stage and progressively restoring to optimal capacity. A post-crisis assessment should analyze the state of the ‘national statistical system’ in terms of losses and remaining stock of data resources, remaining conditions of physical assets --- infrastructure/facilities, equipment, and systems, including ICT resources and the minimum set of indicators to inform rebuilding measures.

The NSDS should be proactive not only in anticipating and preparing for new data demand but also in analysing risks and preparing a mitigation strategy to manage the impact of such risks. The NSDS should benefit from a comprehensive risk assessment based on a full accounting of the sources of fragility and vulnerability and their impact on the ‘national statistical system’. Periodic monitoring based on indicators needs to be programmed into the NSDS to keep watch over and flag the possibility of a crisis occurring during NSDS implementation. However, as many of fragile states are often poor countries, such risk assessment and monitoring system may not be affordable. Fragile states may need external assistance, ideally from a regional cooperation mechanism where the state is part of. The NSDS will need to serve as a preventive tool to protect and preserve the country’s statistical data resources by prioritizing strategies including to establish a virtual data archives system. Strategic partnership with or support from other countries to provide backup assistance as part of south-south cooperation may be worth considering.

Concrete actions

  • Assess the NSS and the risks associated with the sources of fragility and vulnerability in the country, (e.g., poverty, political turmoil, conflict, economic crisis, disasters, etc.). Step 3.1 | Step 3.2 | Step 3.3 | Step 3.4
    • Identify most relevant and priority users of data and their needs.
    • Analyze existing data in relation to priority data needed by key users and other potential data.
    • Examine existing relevant legal frameworks and policies, resources, and capacities of the NSO and key ministries/agencies.
  • Identify strategic goals and key outputs for the NSS and in priority sectors and/or subject-matter areas with minimum set of indicators. Step 4.2 | Step 4.3
    • Identify strategies for preventive and reconstructive measures.
      • Develop appropriate standards and protocols.
  • 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
    • Prioritize preventive and reconstructive activities to manage impact of risks to the national statistical system.
      • Develop/strengthen system for collecting core statistics.
      • Establish virtual data archives.
      • Develop appropriate data dissemination platform to keep data flow at the onset and during and post-crisis situations.
    • Optimize international support for statistics (e.g., 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, academic and research community, and civil society on preventive and reconstructive measures.
  • Monitor results of strategies and activities, and the risks and mitigation strategy. Step 6.4