Statistics for the global good – High-quality statistics to improve lives globally

16 June 2022
Last updated:
16 June 2022

Showcase of our work

We have gained a wealth of experience in building statistical capacity and capability since our international development programme began in 2016. Some of our key successes can be found in the following case studies.

During the period 2018 to 2021 a strategic relationship with the Ghana Statistical Service included support from an ONS strategic adviser and a local project support officer based in country alongside a UK-based team with a wide range of
technical and project management skills. We also provided links to our other partnerships, with other donors and with the FCDO in Accra. This has enabled us to support the Ghana Statistical Service comprehensively and achieve:

  • Improvements in the geospatial quality and coverage, the use of technology, and the communication and citizen engagement aspects of the 2021 Census.
  • Strategic inputs into key planning and policy documentation and standards including work on initial stages of development of a Code of Practice for Statistics and Data Ethics for official statistics; launch of the GSS five-year strategic business plan; and advising on its competency framework for statistical staff.
  • Raising awareness and importance of the communications services to ensure greater impact of their statistics.
  • An improved understanding of the need for timely and robust statistics to support national development and evidence-based decision-making in Ghana is at the heart of their approach.

Our partnership with the Ghana Statistical Service is showcased in a short video on our webpage.

The UK is a lead contributor to the development of Open SDG, an open source, multilingual, fully customisable and free-to-reuse SDG-reporting platform. Open SDG is used for the UK SDG data website and has a growing user community including many countries, regions and cities around the world.

We have supported the development of guidance, video tutorials, information and case studies on the Open SDG website to enable other countries to create their own version.

We have also, through our international development work, directly supported developing countries to set up their SDG platforms. This has included working with Rwanda and Ghana through our partnerships.

Through these collaborations we have identified the types of skills and knowledge that countries need to develop and use their platforms to greatest effect; we have then built up the type of training and support that we are able to offer.

We are therefore able to expand the offer of support to other interested developing countries and have now also worked with the statistical offices of Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Lao PDR and Sierra Leone.

Following the onset of the pandemic the ONS’s international development work pivoted to help partner national statistics offices (NSOs) supply data and analyses governments needed to mitigate the impact.

The ONS advised on a reorganisation of teams at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), which it has an existing partnership with, enabling it to better support member state NSOs. We supported collaboration between NSOs and UN organisations on the impact of COVID-19 on statistical organisation and mitigation measures, enabling the continuation of key outputs including civil registrations data and Consumer Price Indices (CPI). This included advising on the creation of the Africa Statistical System Collaboration Platform which enables NSOs to better collaborate and share best practice.

In Ghana, the ONS put remote data collection processes in place to enable the continuation of CPI during pandemic restrictions. The ONS also helped Ghana Statistics Service gain a key role in supplying data and expertise to the British High Commission-led epidemiology modelling study that aims to predict the spread of COVID-19.

In addition, the ONS also published a range of guidance to assist NSOs in beginning their first telephone interviews as well as further guidance for NSOs working from home for the first time. Both were published by UNECA and actively shared with NSOs across the continent.

High-quality labour market statistics are essential for governments to boost jobs, wages and productivity in low-income countries. Yet, in many parts of the developing world, improvements to labour market statistics are still much needed.

To help address this, the ONS has been working with the FCDO, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the World Bank to improve international labour statistics. This also reflected the need for better evaluation of the jobs-related impacts of the various economic development programmes carried out by FCDO and the World Bank.

The ONS then assessed the current situation regarding labour market statistics in Jordan, Ghana and Kenya. This was done as part of ongoing partnerships. The assessments looked particularly at the development requirements for each country’s labour market statistics. These included more detailed statistics on the informal sector and informal employment, which tend to make up the largest part of the employed labour force in those countries.

The assessments also highlighted the need for national statistical organisations to have more support with selecting and applying the ILO’s recommendations for data collection. We have since assisted the Ghana Statistical Service with drafting a new strategy for the development of a more comprehensive system of labour statistics. The ONS is contributing to the further development of this strategy helping it to reflect international recommendations and best practice where relevant.

Road traffic is useful for measuring economic activity as it represents a large proportion of the movement of people and goods, and it can be very timely. However, many countries in the developing world lack regular estimates of road traffic activity.

To address this, we applied machine learning techniques to generate estimates of traffic volume using open-source imagery from the satellite Sentinel 2.

We were able to spot large vehicles as they appear as a series of blue, green and red pixels. This enabled us to estimate the number of trucks on a stretch of the M1 between Leicester and Sheffield, and part of the main road running from Mombasa to Nairobi in Kenya.

Our new methodology successfully identified large changes following the lockdowns and easing of COVID-19 restrictions throughout 2020. Data from this project also have the potential to be used by governments when making decisions on infrastructure such as improvements to roads, as well as those affecting the import of goods and services.

Read the full blog.

The 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census was the country’s first ever paperless census, with digital technology used during mapping and enumeration.

The ONS, with funding from the FCDO, supported the census exercise through its partnerships with Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) and UNECA. We provided strategic advice and expert technical assistance, particularly in handling the deployment of 170,000 tablet computers to the field for data gathering.

The partnership also supported the development of a central dashboard to monitor and manage incoming census data and report back to senior officials within the Government of Kenya. As a result of this collaboration, the census took place digitally and on time, with headline results produced ahead of schedule.

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