Environment Statistics in COMESA

The management of environmental information is a relatively recent activity in Africa and, in particular, in the COMESA Member States. The COMESA Treaty and specifically Articles 122-126 provide the policy context for sustainable development and cooperation in among others, the environmental issues. Concomitantly the Treaty provides for a regional statistical system that monitors all aspects of regional integration and cooperation (Article 140).

Considering the relatively inadequate progress made over the availability of environmental statistics as evidenced by high rates of non-response to the surveys organized by the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), technical capacity building and other support to countries has become crucial in recent years. Countries in the COMESA region need to sustainably implement and strengthen Environment Statistics. An assessment was carried out in 2014 by the COMESA Secretariat on the status of Environment Statistics in its Member States. The assessment revealed the following challenges: lack of financial resources, lack of human resources, lack of technical capacities, lack of tools/instruments for data collections and lack of institutional coordination.

Following the assessment, a roadmap for implementation of the FDES was endorsed by the Sixth Meeting of the COMESA Committee on Statistical Matters (CCSM) and approved a recommendation for adoption of the roadmap which was subsequently approved also by the thirty fourth COMESA Council of Ministers. The roadmap will guide implementation at the Member state level and will include;

  • Building of partnerships with UNSD, other sub regional agencies and key agencies in development of environment statistics;
  • Capacity building at regional and national level;
  • Developing the institutional dimension of environment statistics through identification of all stakeholders in the data production process;
  • Under existing national statistical laws, promote advocacy for clarity on the definition of mandates and competencies of institutions responsible for each sector of environment statistics;
  • Enhancement of inter institutional collaboration;
  • Comprehensively addressing institutional challenges and constraints in finance, human resource, technical capacities and coordination;
  • Sector Assessments for both existing and non-existing environment statistics in Member states;
  • Compilation and publication of national environment statistics reports.

COMESA Secretariat, as an initial step towards the support to its countries, undertook to collaborate with the UNSD on the implementation of FDES in its Member states. This culminated in a joint capacity building workshop on the FDES implementation roadmap in Mauritius in early 2015. UNSD continues to support COMESA in the implementation of FDES in countries through; review of data from national institutions, review of processes related to data collection and institutional coordination and lastly review of national reports. COMESA has provided technical supports through national workshops and built the capacity of local stakeholders and data providers and set up institutional arrangements for data sharing as appropriate. Hence, some countries, including Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Ethiopia, have been able to prepare an environment statistics compendium or statistical bulletins. Other countries like Seychelles and Egypt have started the process to collect data and prepare publications. The activities related to the implementation of FDES 2013 is bound to be carried on and extended to other COMESA member states and as such other related statistical interventions are envisaged, such as preparation of statistics on climate change and blue economy.