The Zambian government considers the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a national agenda, given in so far as the development issues to be addressed reverberate with the goals agreed in this global Agenda. Constitutionally, sustainable development has been enshrined among the national values and principles in the 2016 Amended Constitution aimed at guiding decision-making on the development process for Zambia. Secondly, the SDGs have been mainstreamed into Zambia’s current development plan, the 7th National Development Plan(7NDP) to the extent of 75 percent of the SDGs of applicable targets being fully aligned to the national plan and 11 percent being partially aligned. Sustainable Development also takes centre stage in the development of policies and strategies across all economic and social policies that the country has developed since the adoption of the SDGs. All of this is a demonstration of Zambia’s resolve, from the highest level, to embrace and pursue this transformative global development Agenda.
Zambia has domesticated the SDGs through institutional, policy and legislative processes and planning and implementation processes. Key policy and legislative interventions to support implementation of the SDGs include the National Planning and Budgeting Bill, which is aimed at strengthening the link between the Budget and the Plan; and the Monitoring and Evaluation Policy to improve programme efficiency and effectiveness.
The Parliamentary Caucus Committee on the SDGs has been instrumental in fostering and sustaining SDG engagement. Through these contacts, the level of SDG knowledge among Parliamentarians has been raised, and in turn they have disseminated information to their constituencies.
In order to accelerate the implementation, monitoring and reporting of the 2030 Agenda, Zambia adopted the existing National Development Plan (NDP) structure. The framework benefitted from wide consultations at national and sub-national levels. The NDP institutional structures for implementation, monitoring and reporting were adopted for the SDGs. This was deemed to be an effective and efficient approach, as it would save on costs and avoid duplication.
Having decided on the institutional framework, and using results from the Rapid Integrated Assessment(RIA) exercise, the process of formulating the roadmap started in 2017. Lessons learnt from implementation of the MDGs were taken into account, key among these was the need for strengthening institutional arrangements. The need for reliable and readily available data was noted and strategies devised for improving capacities. The transition from sector-based planning to integrate planning necessitated capacity building among all participating institutions and this was undertaken in collaboration with the UN. Further, in order to fulfil the goal of leaving no one behind, the implementation process entails the identification and involvement of all key actors, including grassroots communities, civil society, local authorities, cooperating partners and government units at various levels.
The NDP Framework is also meant to build awareness, promote ownership, and indicate a way forward for the implementation phase. The Framework further unveiled pathways for mobilisation of both technical and financial resources for effective implementation of the SDGs.
Source : Zambia 2020 VNR
An indicator assessment was done. The assessment indicated that 208 indicators were applicable to Zambia. Of the indicators applicable, 34 percent of indicators had data availabl and that 51 percent of the indicators while 15 percent of the indicators had no metadata. Other indicators are either for global monitoring or not applicable to Zambia’s situation; for example, Goal 14 on the conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
The mapping exercise involved the identification of SDGs, targets and indicators that corresponded to specific development outcomes, strategies and programmes in the Plan. Where possible, some targets and indicators were restated to make them more applicable to local development contexts. The mapping exercise also involved extensive consultations with key stakeholders including; the Private Sector, Civil Society Organisations and Cooperating.To ascertain the extent of alignment, further analysis was done through a benchmarking process using the criteria below.
- Aligned: There is a development outcome/strategy in the national planning document that corresponds to an SDG target, not only in text, but also in scope and ambition. It has defined indicators to measure their progress;
- Partially Aligned: There is a development outcome/strategy in the national planning document that corresponds to an SDG target, but not completely in either scope or ambition, or there are no indicators to measure their progress; and
- Not aligned: There is no development outcome/strategy in the national planning document that corresponds to an SDG target.
The Ministry of National Development Planning which is the national designated entity to coordinate the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of SDGs developed a concept note for the VNR process. The concept note outlined the requisite activities and timeliness for the preparation and presentation of the VNR , in line with the UN Secretary General’s voluntary Guidelines. The MNDP appointed a VNR secretariat team which was tasked with coordination, technical backstopping and quality assurance of the VNR process.
In 2020, Zambia presented their first ever Voluntary National Review (VNR) which underscored the significant progress towards monitoring the SDGs and the government’s strong commitment towards the implementation of the transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This VNR report covers 14 out of the 17 SDGs. The number of indicators reported under each SDG is indicated in Table 2-1 of the VNR. SDG 10 was not reported on because it is reflected in other goals such as SDG 1, SDG 8 and SDG 17; SDG 14 is not covered because it is not applicable in Zambia and SDG 12 has been left out because of data limitations
ZamStats uses the Open Data Portal for Africa initiated by AfDB to disseminate SDG indicators. The portal is also used to disseminate data on different socio-economic indicators. The portal has an SDG module that ZamStats adopted in May 2019 as a platform for reporting SDG data. The portal has a provision for metadata. The training on the data portal management has been made possible with the support from AfDB while metadata compilation has been made possible through the UNSD-Project. The choice of the platform as a mode of disseminating SDGs was adopted because capacity was already built in officers in ZamStats on the AfDB data portal imitative and no challenges were experienced. The Data portal SDG module has SDMX embedded in it
The increasing need for data and statistics for sustainable development cannot be over-emphasised. According to best practices and guidelines from PARIS21, the design process of the Second National Strategy for the Development of Statistics (NSDS2) is highly interactive and spans over a period of at least 18months. The process of developing the NSDS2 for the period 2021-2025 is close to completion with a final draft at hand. The process of developing the NSDS2 has brought to the fore strategic issues which Government has focussed on in all technical discussions and various statistical project formulation. It is without doubt that SDG commitment, being part of the integrated development planning approach adopted in 2017, will be well elaborated and considered.
It is planned that the NSDS2 document will be finalised and launched during the first quarter of 2021.
The coordination of the SDGs in the country is the responsibility of the MNDP using a national coordination mechanism put in place in 2018. The ZamStats is responsible for coordinating the indicator data compilation and metadata and be able to report on the National platform..
ZamStats has been given the mandate to provide the data on SDG indicator data compilation. ZamStats in liaison with the Ministry of National Development Planning and all institutions in the National Statistical System (NSS) with the support of UNDP compiled a baseline SDG indicator framework in which all indicators were assessed. The assessment of the baseline status on the SDGs in Zambia was driven by the realization that Zambia needed to move together with the rest of the world to achieve a common development state for the prosperity of the people and the planet. ZamStats and the Ministry of National Development Planning (MNDP) played a critical role in galvanizing national efforts involving various stakeholders. ZamStats, MNDP and UNDP jointly organized a series of meetings with various stakeholders in the preparation of an Indicator Framework that established data availability and gaps that needed to be addressed, to effectively track progress on the indicators. The outcome of the meetings helped to establish readiness to report on SDG Indicators in line with the metadata provided by the United Nations Committee on Statistics. The Indicator framework was able to provide information on which agency produces or is supposed to produce data for a particular indicator and how the data is collected. The indicator framework on the status of SDG data in Zambia was produced. ZamStats updates the indicator framework with the data it produces and also collects and compiles data from other producers of statistics on the indicators they are in charge of. In order to institutionalize work on SDGs data compilation in order to ensure, among others, that the Indicator Framework is updated, ZamStats requested line Ministries and Institutions to appoint focal point persons. Each Ministry/Institution has focal point persons (2) for the indicator they are responsible for. The focal point person compiles data and shares with ZamStats, validation meetings held. Once validated, this data is then uploaded on the data portal for all to access
The Statistical Act provides for the coordination and cooperation with statistical agencies and users, specifically in section 4.
- The Agency shall liaise, coordinate and cooperate with relevant statistical agencies and users for the purposes of this Act and may -
(a) have joint programmes, plans, strategies and policies, taking into account the national policies of the Government; and
(b)enter into memoranda of understanding as instruments of cooperation.
- The Agency shall, for purposes of subsection (1),develop working relationship among statistical agencies and users for the -
(a) collection, production, analysis and dissemination of statistics; or
(b) capture, management, maintenance, integration, distribution and use of spatial data.
- The Agency shall collaborate with statistical agencies in ensuring compliance with this Act.
- The Agency shall put in place necessary coordination mechanisms, at local, national, regional and international levels, to enable the overall coordination of the statistical function within the National Statistical System
The data sharing arrangement include Memorandum of Understanding with Different agencies. ‘ZamStats has in the recent past signed a number of MoUs with Institutions as this is one of the items outlined in the New Statistics Act of having an Integrated National Statistical System. ZamStats is also in the process of operationalizing a Data Sharing Agreement that was developed with support from UNSD /DFID project on SDGs
Once implemented, it will fully be relevant for SDG indicator compilation especially on standardization of formats and mode of transmission that will be put in place. The data shall be provided as and when requested for as stipulated in the data sharing agreement hence ensuring that there are no gaps in the compilation and reporting of data
ZamStats takes the lead in organizing meetings to compile SDGs indicator data and metadata and communicates on a regular basis with focal point persons in the NSS. In August 2020, ZamStats organized a metadata compilation workshop of which all institutions responsible for an indicator were engaged. All focal point persons were taken through the procedure of metadata compilation. At the end of the workshop, Data sharing of metadata was done through email in a format that was given.
With the enactment of the Statistics Act No. 13 of 2018, which repealed and replaced the Census and Statistics Act of 1964, Zambia has undertaken statistical reforms aimed at strengthening the entire NSS. The reforms have led to the transformation of the Central Statistical Office from merely a government department to a semi-autonomous body called the Zambia Statistics Agency (ZamStats).
In this regard, the Act also outlines functions and roles of different players within the NSS and gives the ZamStats the role of coordinating the National Statistical System and powers to guide on statistical code of practice. In order to harmonise statistical processes, the Act further empowers the Agency to guide, among others: data collection processes of various surveys; composition of indicator metadata; standardisation of methodologies and tools; and designation of statistics as official statistics.
In a quest to improve availability of quality data and ensure integration of the NSS, the Government of Zambia, through the ZamStats, is in the process of developing the second National Strategy for Development of Statistics (NSDS 2) to replace the old one which came to an end in 2018. The NSDS 2 will act as a data plan to respond to the data demands of the 7NDP and the SDGs.
Zambia Statistics Agency (ZamStats) undertook an exercise to determine and identify the availability and reliability of data for SDG indicators, review the data needs, methodology and consistency of indicators, including administrative data provided by line ministries and other agencies. The scope of the assessment included mapping of institutions responsible for providing data for the indicator framework. The exercise found that only a third (34 percent) of the indicators had the required data, 51 percent of the indicators had no data, and 15 percent of the indicators had no metadata.
Zambia has undertaken measures to raise the statistical capacity of the Central Statistical Office (CSO), which is now a semi-autonomous body following the enactment of the Statistics Act No. 13 of 2018. The CSO, now called Zambia Statistics Agency (ZamStats) has embarked on strengthening the statistical capacities of Planning Units through the National Strategy for the Development of Statistics II (NSDS, 2019-2024).
Government is committed to ensure that the provisions in the Statistics Act on the development of the NSDS in line with the development plan is achieved. Government is committed to ensuring that funding is allocated for production of core statistics related to sustainable development. As such, the 8NDP will incorporate statistical development during the plan period to ensure development of an integrated NSS and other aspects in order to make the Statistics Act operational. The Government through ZamStats has requested the MPSAs to secure funding through the annual workplans and budgets. Specifically, institutions have been encouraged to strengthen or establish Statistics Units in order to mainstream statistical activities for the production of administrative data. Implementation of the NSDS2 will also include capacity building programmes with the support of ZamStats, in collaborations with partners such as the University of Zambia and international agencies such as Statistics Sweden.
ZamStats held a meeting with Institutions in the NSS (Focal point person) in SDG metadata compilation. The team was taken through by ZamStats SDG focal point persons on SDG metadata compilation as guided by the UNSD. This is the first step in compiling an SDG Metadata handbook that will be produced in the first quarter of 2020. The handbook has all the details on all indicators that readily have data and those that do not have data but can be compiled.
Some good practices leant from this process is that engage all institutions available with focal point persons, build capacity in more than one person within each institution that are able to provide metadata for their indicators. Build a strong SDG national team in order to have an updated metadata handbook
NSDS2 implementation which will focus among others on capacity building, improvement and MIS establishment, putting in place a National Quality Assurance framework (NQAF). The NQAS aims at assuring the quality of statistics throughout the entire National Statistical System. It will provide guidance for the engagement with statistics producers and data providers that are outside the NSS that cooperate with NSS members in production of official statistics.
The user engagement national workshop conducted by UNSD in April 2019 provided a venue for discussions between the CSO, other member of the NSS and different user groups on how to best facilitate two-way communication between the various parties. The open and inclusive drafting process resulted in a user engagement strategy that incorporated inputs from various constituencies. An action plan linking the objectives of the user engagement strategy with concrete activities as also been drafted. Zambia shared its experience with other countries during the international workshop on user engagement which provided an opportunity for other countries to learn from the Zambian experience in drafting the strategy.