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Stackyard News Jun 08

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Gates Foundation Grant for FAO

The quality of statistical information from 17 countries in sub-Saharan Africa will be dramatically increased with grant funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, reported FAO today.


field worker in kenya

The US$ 5.6 million grant over two years will allow the 17 countries identified, through the FAO country statistics information system (CountrySTAT), to substantially improve the quality, accessibility,relevance and reliability of their national statistics on food and agriculture. In so doing, it will facilitate planning and decision-making by policy makers and analysts, particularly in the push to reduce hunger and poverty.

“Ensuring reliability of country data is crucial both to governments and to those working with countries to reduce undernourishment and strengthen agricultural and rural development. With good and reliable data it is much easier to pinpoint where assistance is working, where it may be weak and understanding possible future needs”, says Hafez Ghanem, FAO Assistant Director-General for the Economic and Social Development.

The countries involved in the two-year project are: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

The statistics gathered in CountrySTAT centre around the following areas:
• food - its production, utilization, trade (imports, exports, prices) and consumption;
• resources, notably availability, use and trade (imports, exports, prices); and
• economics, namely inputs and their prices, production and output prices.

To date 20 countries and regions are involved in the development of CountrySTAT with different degrees of implementation and coverage. The grant from the Gates Foundation will allow FAO to enhance the depth and spread of its country information in 17 countries, nine of which currently use CountrySTAT in some capacity, as well as its regional and global information databases.

“Reliable data will help national governments, donors, researchers and the agricultural development community set priorities and policies that will ensure small farmers can access the supplies and support they need to boost their yields and incomes and build healthy, productive lives,” said Dr. Rajiv Shah, Director of Agricultural Development for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program. “Quality data will help us make better decisions so that our investments in agricultural development throughout Sub-Saharan Africa can be as targeted and effective as possible.”

The foundation’s Agricultural Development Initiative is working with a wide range of partners to provide millions of small farmers in the developing world — most of whom are women —with tools and opportunities to boost their productivity, increase their incomes and build better lives for themselves and their families. The foundation invests in efforts across the entire agricultural value chain, from seeds and soil to farm management and market access.

About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people — especially those with the fewest resources — have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, the foundation is led by CEO Patty Stonesifer and co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

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