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social national dataDr Andrew Arkutu, former Chairman, National Population Council (NPC) has advocated a training module on data-based planning for development be established at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA).He said the establishment of such a training module would require the active participation and collaboration of key stakeholders including the Ministry of Planning, Ghana Statistical Services (GSS), National Development Planning Commission, the Regional Institute for Population Studies and the NPC.

He noted that there were scores of public,academic and research institutions involved in data gathering and management,and that all these could benefit from technical and financial support as well as greater coordination and collaboration.

“There is the need to develop and strengthen a culture of data-based planning involving the systematic integration of social and demographic variables into planning for development,” Dr Arkutu stated on Thursday in Accra, during his presentation at the Ghana Association of former International Civil Servants (GAFICS) Annual Public Lecture on the theme “Numbers Count: Strengthening the Culture of Planning”.

The GAFICS constitute a pool of highlyqualified Ghanaians with extensive experience and expertise in many scientific, social, economic and related fields. It was incorporated under the CompaniesCode, 1963 (Act 179) on 26 September 2000 and formally inaugurated in April 2001.

The GAFICS started with a membership of 28 and now boasts over 100 active members.Dr Arkutu, who is also a past President of GAFICS, said Ghana had made some remarkable progress in evolving severalimportant social intervention policies and programmes to enhance the quality of life of the population.

“It is apparent, however, that where the conception,planning, development and implementation of these programmes had not beenadequately informed by the socio-demographic data which, in this lecture has been defined literally and figuratively as numbers, problems and challengesarise which may negatively affect desired and expected outcomes,” he said.

He said there was the need for priority to be given to improving access to reliable data by investing in the creation of a full-fledged National Database, preferably within the GSS; adding that, it would be much cheaper to maintain one comprehensive database than several parallel ones. He said the Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Information System should be strengthened through adequate fundingand technical assistance to ably discharge its important mandate.

He said it also had the mandate to assist intraining personnel in the integration of demographic variables into the development process.“The NPC, must, above all, strongly advocatefor the creation of the National Database and improved access to quality data for development planning,” he said.

Dr Arkutu said a huge amount of data was collected and stored on a regular basis by a host of agencies; stating that, the problem was that the majority of institutions, agencies and individuals collecting data seem unaware of the value of the information they gather or how the information could be used for planning purposes or for improving performance and outcomes

“If aware, the staff seems to lack the skills to use the data for planning. Awareness is important. Acquiring the skills for integration is key. Staff at all levels, especially those involved in policy formulation and planning should be properly trained for the purpose. ”Mr Kwaku D. Osei-Bonsu, President, GAFICS, said the objective of GAFICS was to contribute to social and economic development of the country by placing the skills and expertise of its members at the disposal of the Government as well as other Ghanaian institutions.

Mr Abdourahamane Diallo, Head of Office and Representative of UNESCO to Ghana, acknowledged Ghana’s support for the ideas and mission of the UN to meet the needs of the people. The lecture was chaired by Dr Nana SusubribiKrobea Asante, Paramount Chief, Asante Asokore.

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