DECEMBER, 2. 2014
CountrySTAT Sierra Leone last Wednesday (26 November) concluded its maiden Technical Working Groups (TWG) meeting at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Freetown. The meeting was to collect, validate, and harmonize national food and agriculture data to be uploaded on its website for public consumption.
CountrySTAT – a subsidiary of FAOSTAT – is a web-based information technology system that allows gathering and monitoring of national and sub-national food and agriculture data in compliance with international standards.
The TWG has representatives from various institutions, within the government, such as the Ministries of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security; Trade and Industry; and UN agencies, including UNICEF and WFP. It is a platform that allows data users such as researchers, policy makers and development practitioners, to have access to agriculture related data from any location with internet connectivity.
While officially opening the two-day session, Assistant Representative of FAO Programmes, Joseph Brima, expressed delight over the activities of CountrySTAT, noting that data collection and management is very significant for national development.
Brima stated that centralized data management contributes to eliminating fragmentation, creates collaboration among different institutions and more importantly puts the country on the spotlight with regards food security, nutrition and other agriculture related issues.
He further stated that the collection and management of data significantly aids academic research and policy formulation as development plans are mostly formulated based on available data, for which he encouraged members to intensify cooperation and work towards gaining national ownership and sustainability of the process.
Coordinator of CountrySTAT Sierra Leone, Mohamed Ajuba Sheriff, acknowledged that the country is faced with data gap, especially in the areas of food, nutrition and agriculture related statistics, which has over the years undermined efficient agriculture research and policy formulation.
He maintained that the Secretariat, together with the Technical Working Groups, would continue to collect and validate new data from various sources. They will also review and update existing data which will be uploaded to the CountrySTAT Sierra Leone website as the objective is to populate the website with enough information, including news items and bulletin relating to food and nutrition security.
The validated uploaded data on the country website could also be accessed globally from the FAOSTAT.