Source: Asia Development Bank
ADB joins the celebration of World Statistics Day on October 20, highlighting the significance of good data for the development of Asia and the Pacific.
According to the Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2020, the region accounts for a significant portion of global economic output, investment, and trade. According to the latest official figures, the number of people living in extreme poverty in developing Asia has been reduced to 263 million in 2015 from 1.5 billion in 1990. ADB estimated in our September 2020 Asian Development Outlook Update that without COVID 19, this number will have declined to a remarkable 114 million by the end of this year, but due to the pandemic, the progress will likely be stalled at around 192 million instead.
On the one hand, these figures show how improvement in living standards has been realized through significant reforms and growth in the region. On the other hand, as the world grapples with the economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is becoming clear that developing Asia will fall to its first economic contraction in 60 years. We are facing real risks that the impressive development results from the past decades could be reversed by this pandemic.
We firmly believe that good policy measures would be key to countering such risks—and there is no good policy, without accurate and reliable data. Good data, we could say, informs and drives sound actions.
How has ADB aided in developing statistical capacity in developing member countries?
ADB has always stood for reliable, timely, and granular data, which are crucial in formulating and implementing policies, and monitoring their progress. In its close work with national statistical systems or NSSs, ADB is pushing the frontiers in data collection, processing and exchange, and analysis.
Good data start with good sources and good collection methods.
ADB has also been helping developing Asia use new data sources and advanced technologies in data collection. We have helped countries establish integrated statistical business registers to improve sampling. We have also aided countries adopt computer-assisted personal interviewing methods in conducting large-scale surveys. This has reduced survey costs, shortened the implementation time, and facilitated smooth data transfer.
We have also used innovative data, like satellite imagery and artificial intelligence. These have been tested to estimate crop yields or to enhance the granularity of poverty statistics.
Data need to be processed properly to be trusted.
ADB helps build capacities of NSSs to produce standardized and internationally comparable statistics by providing trainings on the production of economic and price statistics. We have also promoted the use of statistical data and metadata-sharing standards to improve the interoperability of statistics across different organizations.
Trusted data enable deep analyses—the backbone of policy making.
ADB has also produced statistical tools and knowledge resources, like data showing the interdependencies across sectors and global value chains. These have been used by international organizations to study the impact of events, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we celebrate the World Statistics Day, we reaffirm our commitment to developing innovative statistical tools, providing timely and useful insights, and building capacities in data for development, “Connecting the World with Data We Can Trust”.