Laos to improve SIDA-funded statistical project

Laos’s National Statistical Centre (NSC) is planning to increase its capability in order to improve the quality of data collected on the population’s household expenditure under the project funded by Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).
     SIDA has financially supported NSC’s project to collect data on Lao’s household expenditure since the beginning in 1992. The project is now under phase four of data collection for 2001-2004.
     A lack of qualified staff at the centre is one reason for the often confusing data collected. Local villagers also lack understanding about how to supply data when they are asked for it. This is especially the case for the collection of data on household expenditure of Lao’s 4.5-million population, according to participants at a meeting at the centre on 5 December 2002, NSC General Director Mr Bounthavy Sisouphanthong said, “The difficulty with this work is that the centre has no statistics about the past ten years because the number of staff who works in this field is limited.”
     NSC needs more qualified staff to collect data throughout the country. There are now 45 officials working at the centre, which has five sectors: data collection, national accounts, surveys, services and administration. Currently, 34 officials work in the data collection sector, and they are in charge of a cooperation network all over the country.
     “To close the gaps, we plan to increase the number of staff to 80-100 to meet the demands in the next three to five years, said Mr Yavang, Chief of the Data Collection Sector.
     Mr Yavang added that Lao people were not familiar with keeping a daily record of their expenses. This made the campaign difficult during data collection. Finding qualified staff to fulfill the national statistical collection activities is as difficult as educating villagers about noting their daily expenses because they have lived without records of expenditure from generation to generation.
     “The centre emphasizes training staff at local as well as international levels to create highly qualified workers to meet the human resources standards required for working in this field,” Mr Yavang said.
     The collection of statistics on household expenditure plays an important role in indicating whether income per capita throughout the country increases or decreases each year. The data is used in the campaign for poverty reduction. The collection of statistics can be done once every five years all over the country.

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