THEMATIC BRIEF Population Dynamics- Data availability and analysis

2 September 2017

OVERVIEW

Population trends in the Caribbean show a decrease in total fertility rates over the years, with levels below replacement in all countries except for Belize. Notwithstanding this the issues of adolescent fertility is still a major area of concern, which has many socio-economic implications such as vulnerability to poverty and intergenerational transfer of poverty. Caribbean countries are in most cases enjoying low dependency rates, and eight of them are at an advance stage of the demographic transition, with the potential to reap the benefits of a demographic bonus as an important contributor for development.

With regards to migration, the Caribbean experience high levels of out migration. This tendency impacts negatively on development efforts, as many of these migrants are highly skilled and educated persons. On the other hand remittances from migration contribute significantly to GDP in several Caribbean countries; in Jamaica for example it accounts for about 14% of GDP (2013).

Approximately 10% of Caribbean population has a disability and while countries are taking step to increase their participation in social and economic life, a lot more needs to be done.

Population growth, size, structure and distribution are instrumental to the development of any sound policy, strategy and framework for development and this was underscored by the ICPD PoA in 1994 as well as in the ICPD Framework of Action beyond 2014 and confirmed in the Montevideo Consensus on Population and Development for the LAC of the first regional conference on population and development (Montevideo, Uruguay, August 2013

The planning and monitoring of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda call for greater transparency and accountability from public officers.  That combined with the ever present movement towards sub-regional integration at the level of the countries of the Eastern Caribbean (Organization of Eastern Caribbean States) and at the wider Caribbean level (Caribbean Community – CARICOM) require decision-making that is based on robust and quality statistics. The SDG indicators will then require an unprecedented amount of data to be produced and analyzed which poses a significant challenge for national statistical system in the Caribbean due to their limited capacity.

Despite efforts, there is generally an absence of timely, relevant and high quality statistics for the formulation of policies and decision-making that can enable economic growth and social development in the sub-region.  In the absence of data, policymakers have to rely on anecdotal evidence and estimates for countries are often made by international organizations, including the United Nations, which may not be validated by national parties.

The countries still need particular investment to strengthen the entire national statistical systems; to make available the production and dissemination of core gender-sensitive and age-desegregated data and to engender a strategic approach and the use of effective leadership and management skills in the development of sustainable statistical capacity

Some countries have been making efforts with the support of international development partners to address the above-mentioned challenges.  The National Statistical Office of Aruba stands out as the most self-sufficient agency among the EDSC countries which is recognized as a leader by the other national statistics producing agencies.  Some countries have been able to commence the process of modernization such as Belize, Bermuda, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Suriname and more recently Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. 

All twenty-two EDSC Caribbean countries conducted their censuses between 2010 and 2012.  However, the post-censal activities have proceeded very slowly as the weaknesses of the NSOs identified above are severely tested during this extensive and exhaustive exercise.  Countries which now have clean databases are Aruba which has already released thematic reports, Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago and Turks and Caicos Islands. The remaining countries are at various points in their data capture and cleaning and efforts are ongoing in collaboration with ECLAC to facilitate the availability of datasets ready for will most likely not have datasets ready for thematic analyses. Some of these countries such as Jamaica, Belize and Antigua and Barbuda are also engaged in the preparation for the 2020 census round and are expecting technical leadership support from UNFPA.

An extremely rich source of data which is severely underutilized in the sub-region is administrative data.  A lot of data in ICPD/UNFPA areas of interest is routinely collected within the Ministries of Health, the Gender Department, and the Police Department. Limited use is made of the data for various reasons including the fact that in many countries this data is still manually recorded and transcribed numerous times before compilation and almost no analysis is done.  Where countries are rolling out Health Information Systems, priority is usually given to collecting and tabulating revenue related data and not the health variables.  Ad-hoc studies have been conducted using administrative data which have yielded very useful information to inform policy and program.  However, the studies are not repeated on a regular basis.  Some countries notably Cayman, Jamaica and St. Lucia are exploring the development of National Statistical Systems.

PRIORITIES

The priorities for this thematic area were identified in-line with UNFPA’s Global Strategic Plan and Multi-Country Sub-regional Programme for the English and Dutch-Speaking Caribbean (2017-2021):

Strengthened institutional capacity to improve the availability and utilization of data disaggregated by sex, age and country in national planning and national processes. Key interventions include:

•          Providing technical support to countries in data cleaning and data analyses using direct delivery of technical assistance, south-south collaboration or through consultancies.

•          Contribution to the  sub-regional dialogue and coordination of statistical activities in line with the SDGs targets and indicators by providing financial support to countries to participate in the CARICOM Secretariat’s sub-regional meetings including the Standing Committee of Caribbean Statisticians, the Regional Census Coordinating Committee and the Research Seminar, which has focused among others on learning from the implementation of the 2010 census round and preparing for the 2020 census round

·         While implementing the programme activities, focus was also in positioning ICPD beyond 2014 in the new global agenda, in the national, regional and international intergovernmental processes involving the EDS Caribbean for the SAMOA Pathway and the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. Furthermore, the SRO for the Caribbean will convene in December a sensitization workshop for the Caribbean on the Montevideo Consensus which will also allow for a better preparation for the submission of the 3rd Meeting on Population and Development in October 2017.

KEY ACHIEVEMENTS

All activities funded from core resources have basically been completed with final expenditures being incurred at the moment. The exception to this is the end of year activity related to 2016,

Only one activity funded from non-core resources is pending due to delays in disbursement earlier this year.  Due to the nature of the activity and the human resources required to implement it, it is doubtful that the activity can still be conducted this year.  Finance Unit is investigating whether these non-core resources can be rolled over to 2014.

Strategies employed in the delivery of technical assistance in the area of support to censuses and data collection:

•          Provision of technical support to selected countries in the area of computer editing through direct technical assistance, south/south collaboration and consultancies.Instances of south-south collaboration have been from one NSO to another.

Technical and financial support was provided to revise or develop national population policyin Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica. At the request of the government, a webinar was organized to facilitate the reflection on the possibility to develop a national population policy in Barbados based on the experience in Trinidad and Tobago. 

•          Provision of technical support and funding to high level intergovernmental processes at regional and international level around the SDGs and the SAMOA Pathway;

•          Technical support provided to the OECS secretariat for the management and administration of a comprehensive Census website which includes functionalities for FAQs, Resource Center, Requesting technical assistance, Calendar of events, News and Updates, Web Forum, Web Chat.

•          Contributed to sub-regional dialogues and coordination of statistical works by providing financial support to countries to participate in the CARICOM Secretariat’s sub-regional meetings including the Standing Committee of Caribbean Statisticians, the Regional Census Coordinating Committee and the Research Seminar. This contributes to sub-regional coordination of social and demographic statistics and also encourages an integrated approach for all development agencies

•          Support for preparation of Situation Gap analysis on SRH for Adolescents in OECS a Caribbean analysis of trends in adolescent motherhood and fertility and related inequalities and initiating series of Situation analysis on ASRH (Guyana)

•          Capacity development to improve government and academic institutions’ production, analysis and dissemination of socio-demographic data and information. The most recent being, the capacity building workshops and webinars for 18 NSO in REDATAM (dissemination of census data) and demographic analysis and population projection, in collaboration with ECLAC and CDB’s funding,           

•          To advance the availability of evidence using new technology in emergency preparedness and response, the SROC is collaborating on an initiative funded by the Government of Luxembourg with the UNFPA Technical Division that responds to a need identified by selected countries in the sub-region during the SIDS consultations. Jamaica, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago are involved in the piloting Population and Climate Change initiative which seeks to mitigate the effects of climate changes and disasters on the population. The project uses an innovative tool that incorporates spatial and demographic data to issue vulnerability maps to facilitate preventive and mitigating measures to address natural hazards.

Major pertinent data obtainable from most of the Caribbean censuses include:

·         Maternal mortality and recent fertility data were collected by most countries.  These can be analyzed against a wide cross-section of demographic and socio-economic variables.

·         Teenage fertility 15-19 can be analyzed. UNFPA is supporting some countries such as Suriname (in collaboration with UNICEF and Guyana in this regards.

·         Most indicators calculated can be analysed by sex.

·         Data can be disaggregated by age and statistical analyses conducted on the older age groups.

·         International migration data is available.  This data will have its usual methodological limitations.

UNFPA played a key role in the development of the draft policy on International Migration and development in Jamaica in collaboration with UNDP, UNAIDS, IOM and UNICEF. This project was supported and facilitated by the Global Migration Group (GFMD), UNDP provided most of the funding while UNFPA provided minimal funding but mostly technical support. The limited technical capacity and financial resources do not able the SRO to facilitate the south-south exchanges between Jamaica and the countries ( Trinidad and Tobago and St Vincent and Grenadines) that have expressed interest in developing a Policy on Migration. 

REGIONAL INSTRUMENTS/PARTNERSHIPS

A memorandum of understanding was signed in 2011 between the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and UNFPA and a general MOU exists between UNFPA and the CARICOM Secretariatthat would have been signed from a very long time ago. They are “overarching” instruments” that allow for collaboration between the two agencies in all areas of UNFPA’s mandate including Reproductive Health, Gender Data and Population Dynamics.  The revision of the MOU with the OECS has been engaged under the leadership of the RC Barbados&OECS and it is highly recommended that the MOU with CARICOM secretariat in updated to align both instruments to the Agenda 2030. The new MOUs will facilitate a coordinated approach to technical support to CARICOM and OECS, as well as policy dialogue and strategic positioning of ICPD issues beyond 2014 in support to member countries as well as the for the preparatory activities for the 2020 round of censuses in the sub region.

 

In addition to the CARICOM Secretariat, the regional key partners for the SRO include the UN ECLAC/CELADE in support to Sub-regional and inter-governmental processes related to ICPD+20, Post 2015 Agenda and Beijing +20 as well sturdies and capacity initiatives with focus on Gender and population and development.

 

With the University of the West Indies, the SRO has collaborated regarding research in the area of Adolescent Fertility. The establishment of formal agreements with sub-regional Centers of Excellence is a strategy that is being pursued for the delivery of technical assistance on ways to build and maintain capacity at the institutional level.

OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES

There is much opportunity to further advance the work in data and population dynamics.  Key areas include:

·         High level advocacy for use of Census data to support evidence based policy design and planning in collaboration with CARICOM and OECS Secretariats with the aim of creating the demand for information, ensuring its use in policy development, planning, and resource allocation, and supporting partnership coordination among the development agencies;

·         Implementing the UNFPA new modes of engagement which contributes to sustainability;

·         Continue leadership role in ensuring quality and adherence to international standards and norms in the data areas of UNFPA mandate in support to the SDGs in areas such as Gender equality and women and youth empowerment, Ageing, Fertility, Maternal Mortality, and Population Projections

·         Supporting regional cooperation in analysis, reporting and dissemination of the 2010-2012 Caribbean round of censuses and the preparing for the 2020 census round;

Challenges being faced by the UNFPA in advancing the work in this area in response to the increasing demand for data and the need to remain relevant and to conform to international standards are:

·         Lack of expertise in the region including with the SRO whose positions were abolished resulting  of the restructuring of the Small populations within the sub-region which limit the availability of technical expertise coupled with high turnover of staff skilled in data collection and limited resources for continued capacity building;

·         Language barriers to accessing technical support from the wider LA region;

·         Inadequate legislative framework and reliance on the traditional dissemination methods and lack of leadership and management skills required to modernize these institutions which may require legislative reform, changes in traditional data dissemination methods and maximizing the benefits from technology;

·         Few comprehensive demographic/health surveys have been conducted over the past ten year due to funding constraints. UNICEF has conducted the MICS in a number of countries and UNFPA has collaborated in some of them, capturing data on the thematic areas of interest to UNFPA/ICPD.  However, access to the datasets for further analyses on the variables of interest has not always been forthcoming. 

·         Exacerbating the above challenge,is the need to address the multi-dimension and complexity of the data sets required for the SDGs planning, monitoring and reporting.

On a voluntary basis, Jamaica, Antigua&Barbuda and Guyana are part of the Ad Hoc Working Group involved in the review of the indicators for the Montevideo Consensus on Population and Development.  These indicators derived from the Operational Guide for the implementation of the Montevideo Consensus and, were reflective of indicators from the Sustainable Development Goals, reinforcing the synergy between the Montevideo Consensus and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the region. The indicators were refined during the 2nd Working Group Meeting held in Mexico City, 30-31 May 2017 and will be presented during the upcoming 3rd Regional Conference on Population and Development to be held in El Salvador in 2017.