To be of use, statistics must be both reliable and relevant. They need to be compiled correctly, following standard practices and methodology. They must also meet the needs of users and answer the questions posed by policymakers.

Developing countries face a number of problems in providing statistics that meet these criteria. They often find themselves caught in a vicious cycle—under-investment in national statistical systems constrains activities and results in data of poor quality, which policymakers are unwilling to rely on. This lack of demand for the data leads to fewer resources being made available for their production and quality control. The World Bank is committed to helping developing countries break out of this cycle. Our work includes investments in statistical activities, creating and implementing standards and frameworks for data collection, analysis and dissemination, strengthening the international statistical system, and compiling global data sets.

There is also much to be done in raising awareness of the value of statistics among governments, decision makers and other users. As advocates for statistics, we work in close partnership with developing countries and our partners in the international community.

A priority of the World Bank’s efforts to improve the statistical infrastructure of developing countries is the preparation of national strategies for the development of statistics as recommended in the Marrakech Action Plan for Statistics. These country-driven plans look at the needs of the whole statistical system and provide the basis for coordinated and prioritized donor assistance. Other components of the World Bank’s statistical capacity building program include:

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