Tanzania Socio-Economic Database (TSED)
Nationa Bureau of Statistics

The Problem

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) is the Central Statistical Office of Tanzania. The NBS, as a Government agency, was formed from the former Bureau of Statistics to provide efficient services giving increased value for money for the benefit of the Government and the public in general. NBS carries out its activities in a businesslike manner, using commercial financial management and business-planning techniques and is customer focused. It conducts Censuses and Surveys which yield a wide range of economic, social and demographic statistics.
Therefore roles of NBS are :
• To provide statistics to the government, business and general public as well as international organizations for use in decision –making.
• To coordinate statistics activities so as to produce statistics that are intergrated.
Major Users of the data collected at NBS are the Government itself, Researchers, UN Agencies, Private Sectors, Higher learning Institutions, Students and the General Public.
The NBS vision is to be a preferable source of official statistics in Tanzania.
The Mission is to facilitate informed decision-making process, through provision of relevant, timely and reliable user-driven statistical information, coordinating statistical activities and promoting the adherence to statistical methodologies and standards.
The need for relevant, reliable and timely Statistical information among Policy makers, planners, business people, researchers and society at large has become an inevitable necessity than one can imagine. This is because the decision making, planning and policy formulation are prone to succeed if are backed by facts and reliable data.
A wealth of socio-economic data from different sources exists in Tanzania. Access, however to that data is not easy because information is scattered in different ministries, Departments and Agencies with restricted use, format not easy to access, read and process and there were no proper documentation (definitions/metadata). Furthermore, although comprehensive data is collected e.g. in the area of education and health, only a small portion was published in annual publications with much data remaining in the ministry difficult to access by others.
Some means that were used in disseminating Survey and Census information were printed statistical publications, statistical tables, Statistical libraries were used by the public where by one had to move to the statistical library location for those publications or they had to send a request to the NBS through mails and waiting for the NBS to respond for their requests.
In a bid to disseminate the data to all levels of its users, NBS found it difficult to reach all the users. This was due to the inefficient of the means that were used in dissemination. This necessitate the need to develop the important tool for data collection and dissemination to various stakeholders within the country and outside where they can access the statistical information

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
Tanzania like many other countries are pursuing national development using a results-based agenda, that includes wealth creation and poverty reduction strategies such as the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (NSGRP) - commonly known by its Swahili acronym of MKUKUTA -, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other national and sectoral development plans. The results-based agenda requires clear, unambiguous and systematic measurement and reporting on achievement of development results because as the dictum goes, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”.
There is also increased focus on evidence-based policy and decision-making which requires that public policy decisions are informed by carefully and rigorously analysed credible and quality statistics.
The national results-based agenda and the focus on evidence-based policy and decision-making have increased demand for good statistical information. Indeed, it is now internationally agreed that good statistical information is a necessary infrastructure and part of the enabling environment for national development. It constitutes an essential element in improving the ability of government to formulate appropriate policies, manage the economic and social development process, and monitor improvements in the living standards of the people.
To address the problem stated above, the NBS established unique database dissemination system; electronic data dissemination systems linked with the database and improve the frequency of releases and publication aiming to democratize access, use and dissemination of accurate data on a wide range of socio-economic indicators in a user friendly manner. The Database systems developed was the Tanzania Socio-Economic Database (TSED)
TSED is a National database of all official statistics generated by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in Tanzania mainland. It is an indicator and database administrator system that facilitates systemization, storage and analysis of performance indicators. It allows user-friendly access to data and presentations in maps, graphs, tables and reports and allows grouping of indicators in different frameworks, e.g. MDGs, MKUKUTA etc.
It is adapted as a tool to assist the Government and its development partners to facilitate access of information on human development, focusing on key indicators to monitor socio-economic development, including poverty, health and literacy among others. Tanzania is the first country in Africa to participate in the development and use of this tool using the DevInfo database technology.
What was achieved?
Trough these databases, data on over 300 indicators, disaggregated by sex, urban and rural and by administrative areas down toward level where necessary are available. The data allows for trend analysis since good time series are available. The database includes a module that highlights the MDGs and their related indicators. The sources of data include surveys and censuses as well as routine data systems. The aim of the database is to contribute to “evidence-based decision-making” and is targeting Government policy makers and planners, but also MPs, the NGO/CSO community and the Media. Beneficiaries are Tanzania government, international Organizations and other developing partners.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
Tanzania Socio-Economic Database (TSED)

The National Bureau of Statistics propose the solution to UNICEF and UNDP therefore NBS in collaboration with over 20 Ministries, Government Institutions supported by UNDP and UNICEF established the Tanzania Socio-Economic Database (TSED). The TSED initiative is an important tool for NBS to assert itself as the key institution for data collection, management and dissemination.

The NBS is responsible for the general administration including overseeing the day to day operations of TSED, data provision, management, quality control and releases of data. NBS also provides technical support to the participating Institutions on using the database, as well as facilitating the dissemination of results of National Surveys such as Household Budget Survey (HBS), Integrated Labour Force Survey (ILFS), Population and Housing Census and other data collected through the routine data systems.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
The strategies used to implement TSED were divided into three stages which include raising awareness among stakeholders on the need and usefulness of the tool, Design stages and implementation stage. In design stage activities done were to develop and test the system while on the implementation part activities done were data entry from different sources and development of data management system strategies. Strategies of TSED are to continue disseminating datasets from Routine Sources as well as from Surveys and Censuses. The database is also used to facilitate the Statistical Thematic seminars for policy makers and planners which will stimulate the use of data for analysis and planning and build capacity in this area. Regular updating the TSED with MKUKUTA Indicators once data is available. Harmonizing TSED with other currently available database, e.g. the Local Government M&E System.
The main purpose of TSED is to allow an overall, up-to-date view of the socio-economic situation in Tanzania and to facilitate use of data for analysis by policy makers and other users. TSED is web-enabled database, and provides a means of organizing, storing and displaying data in a uniform format to facilitate sharing in Tanzania and outside of Tanzania. TSED has been adapted from the DevInfo database technology used globally to monitor the MDGs, and has simple and user-friendly features that makes data accessible and can be used to produce tables, graphs, reports and maps for inclusion in reports, presentations and advocacy materials.
TSED was identified to serve as repository of all quantitative data coming out of the Poverty Monitoring System, established in the context of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), and continues to play this role in the 2nd generation PRS, known as MKUKUTA. Consequently data on all MKUKUTA indicators are available in the database. It is a national level process to monitor progress towards the poverty reduction policy objectives and the indicators are mostly outcome and impact indicators.
• The main objective behind TSED is to democratize access, use and dissemination of accurate data on a wide range of socio-economic indicators in a user friendly manner. By doing this, it is hoped that the database, among other things, will contribute significantly to the promotion of the use of data in policy making, based on the evidence provided by surveys and routine data collection mechanisms.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
How was it done? A step by step guide for success:
Build consensus and raise awareness among stakeholders on the need and usefulness of the tool and on the indicators it should contain. Reach agreement among stakeholders on the institutional framework for the initiative. Call on support of the local UNICEF Office and/or the DGO in New York to access technical assistance to customize the DevInfo database to suit our needs and develop a first version. Develop a subsequent “data entry plan” to input data from each ministry. Agree on a robust data management system, including IT backstopping to ensure data quality and proper lines of responsibilities for data entry and dissemination. Regularize data input (on an annual basis) to ensure data is kept up to date. Organize a formal launching to gain publicity and to ensure high level buy in from the participating stakeholders.

Establish a training program for users and administrators. Focusing on management of the database but also on the use of it, particularly in the area of analysis. Specialized training is also required on technical aspects. This will ensure a sustainable base for local support and backstopping. Develop a marketing strategy.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
Challenges and Lessons Learned:-
TSED team faced some of the challenges while establishing and operationalising the TSED. Some challenges have been overcome, some however still exist and work is in progress to resolve them. One of the biggest challenges facing the Initiative is to stimulate substantive use of the Database. Indications are that; people are not used to tools like databases to assist in decision-making processes.

Several initiatives have been developed to try and overcome this challenge. These include giving demonstrations in the respective ministries; using the database to generate specific presentations and maps for ministries; using TSED in the preparation of major reports (e.g. 10 maps generated by TSED were included in the 2001 Household Budget Survey (HBS)). A special CD-rom was also prepared for the HBS including data from TSED and used in the official launch of the HBS during Poverty Policy Week in September 2002.

High-level commitment to the product is required. Tools like TSED need to be formally endorsed by the respective government agencies before staff can use it. Furthermore TSED is made available free of charge and efforts are ongoing to ensure work on TSED is included in the job descriptions of the focal points in each ministry. Each participating ministry has two TSED Focal Points who have been trained on how to update and manage the database within their own institutions

Training for users is customized and people learn by using their own data. Training is also being organized to stimulate the use of data for decision-making and analysis. It proved to be a challenge to develop a user-friendly database tool locally. In case of TSED one year was lost because of this! Using the off the shelf tool developed by UNICEF that could be modified to reflect local needs made a tremendous difference. This was an already tested tool used in many countries. This avoided a long process of development and testing.

A challenge to any new product is to convince potential users of the added benefit of the product itself. The TSED team consciously worked towards adoption of TSED in the wider framework of the PRSP/PMS. We ensured the data set included data on the key Poverty Monitoring Indicators and hosted many demonstrations. Once ‘embedded’ in this framework, people were easily convinced of the usefulness and purpose of TSED. Other possibilities exist as well a TSED-like database can also be specifically linked to MDG monitoring or even assist one particular government sector in producing performance reports.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
A full time Data Management Adviser (DMA) was recruited to support the NBS in building its capacity to manage the TSED initiative. The DMA has been supported by two professional staff from UNICEF and UNDP. In a recent reorganization NBS has fully institutionalized TSED and has assigned one full time staff member and several part-time staff members to the initiative. DFID has provided cost sharing to cover the costs of the DMA position. Although the initial costs for customization of the database are relatively low (US$15,000), substantive support through providing technical assistance is rather costly.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
The Tanzania Socio Economic Database (TSED) is at the heart of the poverty monitoring system providing a tool for storage and dissemination of all quantitative information generated by the poverty monitoring system. It has contributed to the production of the status and trends sections in the National Poverty and Human Development Report (PHDR). The fact that TSED can provide insight in the differences in the status of poverty and human development between districts and wards also allows planners to strategies in targeting their resources in a more effective manner. TSED is also used to disseminating data to stakeholders for example by producing a poster on income poverty for poverty policy week, 2002. The database will also be used to produce a poverty atlas based on the Household Budget Surveys and the Census data. The Initiative is sustainable and transferable NBS has imparted this initiative to various ministries in Tanzania to create their TSED at their respective ministries as monitoring tool.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
Ensure linkage to practical application, preferably linking it to an existing government or UN initiative, like PRSP or UNDAF. Take note of lessons learned from other countries that are more advanced in this area. Keep the institutional framework simple with limited number of partners. Keep the first version of the database small, in terms of substance. Focus on quality data and a product that can be developed quickly to be used to demonstrate its potential, rather than going for substance and a long preparatory process. Data quality is of utmost importance for the credibility of the tool. Ensure data is entered from reliable recognized sources only and include relevant meta-data on definitions and sources. This will ensure the needed high-level support. Undertake a capacity assessment of partners/users to customize the training and to gauge support required. Focus on users who are ready for it and aim to produce a ‘showcase’.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Nationa Bureau of Statistics
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Albina Chuwa
Title:   Dr.  
Telephone/ Fax:   +255 22 2122722/3/4
Institution's / Project's Website:   www.nbs.go.tz
E-mail:   dg@nbs.go.tz  
Address:   796
Postal Code:   +255
City:   Dar es Salaam
Country:   Tanzania

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