Plenary session
Policy panel on data gaps

The availability of accurate and timely data is essential for sound policy making in the Global South. More and better data can be an accelerator for sustainable development. However, the pandemic has stymied government efforts to collect reliable economic and social data. Household, enterprise and labour force surveys have been postponed or cancelled altogether, exacerbating the existing deficiencies in national statistical systems, especially in low income countries. In fragile states, where the presence of widespread conflict along with weak capacity of statistical agencies have been important factors behind the lack of crucial data in many dimensions of economic and social lives of citizens, the pandemic has made the situation worse.  At the same time, the lack of accurate registration systems for deaths in many developing countries implies that there is a large under-counting of mortality directly or indirectly attributed to COVID-19.  

In this panel, leading experts drawn from national statistical offices, international agencies and academia will discuss the challenges to data collection during the pandemic and the implications that this may have for policy making for the immediate future, as well as innovative methods that have been tried out during the pandemic; for example, the use of large-scale phone surveys.  

This panel will focus on the following questions:
i) What do we know about the true mortality due to COVID-19 in developing countries - is the profile of COVID-19 mortalities different in developing countries than in developed countries?
ii) What have been the major challenges faced by national statistical offices in 2020 and 2021 and how have they tried to address the crucial data gaps that have emerged during the pandemic?
iii) To what extent has the pandemic exacerbated the problem of limited data availability in fragile states, and how does it mean for effective policy making in these countries?
iv) What is the role of international initiatives such as Paris21 in improving statistical systems in low income countries, so that they can be more resilient to future crises?
v) Has the pandemic contributed to smarter and more efficient ways of collecting data - what lessons can be drawn for the future from the ingenious ways that data was collected in 2020 and 2021?


Kunal Sen | Chair

Kunal Sen has over three decades of experience in academic and applied development economics research. He is the author of eight books and the editor of five volumes on the economics and political economy of development. From 2019 he is the Director of UNU-WIDER, and he is a professor of development economics at the Global Development Institute, University of Manchester.

Tom MoultrieTom Moultrie | Presenter 

Tom Moultrie is professor of demography and director of the Centre for Actuarial Research at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Among his long-standing research interests are the political sociology of official statistics; and improving and refining the suite of indirect methods of demographic estimation.

Patricia Justino | Presenter 

Patricia Justino is a development economist who works at the interface between Development Economics and Political Science. She is a leading expert on political violence and development, and the co-founder and co-director of the Households in Conflict Network. She is currently a Senior Research Fellow at UNU-WIDER and Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in Brighton, UK (on leave). Professor Justino’s research focuses on the relationship between political violence, institutional transformation, governance and development outcomes.

Paul K SamoeiPaul Kemboi Samoei | Presenter 

Paul K. Samoei has over two decades of experience in Kenya National Bureau of Statistic. He head of research and at the Bureau. He has diverse analytical skills in survey designs, data collection, processing and analyses with a strong bias towards poverty and inequality. 

Samuel Kobina Annim | Presenter 

Samuel Annim is the Government Statistician at the Ghana Statistical Service. He is also Professor of Economics with specific concentration on Micro Development Economics and Applied Microeconometrics at the Department of Economics, University of Cape Coast, Ghana. His passion for scholarly work extends to data quality for development. Samuel passionately supports national and global development agenda by providing professional service to the National Development Planning Commission, the National Statistical System in Ghana and several international bodies.

Lauren HarrisonLauren Harrison | Presenter

Lauren Harrison is a policy analyst and team lead in the data ecosystems team of The Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century (PARIS21).