Better Data. Better Lives.

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 Today, Tuesday 20 October 2015, the St Helena Statistics Office is celebrating World Statistics Day by continuing to stress the importance of accurate statistical information for the Island and spreading the message of Better Data. Better Lives.

At a critical period in the Island’s development we remind people of the importance of data to inform policy formation, to enable effective (and accountable) decision making, and perhaps above all – to ensure that we can monitor the wellbeing of the Island and her people.

In September 2015 the Island saw two vital advances – the landing of the first aeroplane, closely followed by the ‘switching on’ of the first mobile phone network. This level of access, both physical and digital is frequently taken for granted in the rest of the world but here on St Helena they signal the acceleration of the Island and her people towards connection with the rest of the world, irrevocably changing the way the Island operates.

Some examples of where data has been used to support the sustainable development of St Helena over the last year alone include:

 

  • Helping to safeguard against poverty by providing evidence of the inflation in the basket of goods and services which informs the Minimum Income Standard for St Helena, from which Income Related Benefits payments are set
  • Supporting decisions around airline and shipping services through analysis of passenger and cargo arrivals
  • Supporting the team responsible for carrying out a livestock Census with the provision of timely evidence as to the effectiveness of selective breeding programmes for sheep and cattle
  • Producing evidence to support effective policy formation critical to the sustainable development of the Island. One example was providing evidence on the impact of revisions to import duty tariffs for selected agricultural imports – which in turn supports local farmers with the intention of increasing local production.

These seemingly small outputs have had a significant positive impact on the economic and social wellbeing of St Helena and her people. Improved availability of data enabled the production of the first State of the Island report, providing an overview and insight in to key areas of wellbeing for the Island. A population and housing Census, to be completed in February 2016, will provide the last pre-air-access snapshot of the Island and her people. These data will be relied on and built upon for years to come.

The message of the 2016 St Helena Census is We Count Because YOU count and the message of World Statistics Day is Better Data. Better Lives.  These messages hopefully speak for themselves. Official statistics help decision makers develop informed policies that impact millions of people. Improved data sources, sound statistical methods, new technologies and strengthened statistical systems enable better decisions that result in better lives for all of us. The value of statistical information is disproportionately large in small places such as St Helena, and never more so than during periods of change.

SHG

20 October 2015

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