Responding to the SDG16 Measurement Challenge: The Governance, Peace and Security Survey Modules in Africa

Image credit: Eelke via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

This paper presents an ongoing initiative, built on a practical approach grounded in fieldwork, to produce harmonised statistics on governance, peace and security (GPS) at continental level in Africa. The methodology consists of adding standardised GPS modules to official socioeconomic household surveys. In keeping with the widely promoted principles of inclusiveness and participation, the use of statistical surveys of large, representative samples of the population is a good strategy for voicing citizens’ views and concerns. The adoption of the 2030 agenda, which positions institution‐building and governance issues as a cornerstone of sustainable development, provides a unique opportunity to consolidate this pioneering African experience. Institutionalisation of the production of GPS statistics by national statistics offices in the official statistics field offers a promising means to take up the Goal 16 measurement challenge. The paper describes the main methodological options for doing so and draws lessons and initial evidence from a dozen countries that have piloted the GPS survey module. Selected empirical results illustrate the analytical potential and policy relevance of this approach.

Policy implications

  • Empirical results show the analytical potential and policy relevance of an ongoing initiative by the Strategy for the Harmonisation of Statistics in Africa (SHaSA) to produce statistics on governance, peace and security (GPS) at continental level. The adopted methodology of adding standardised GPS modules to socioeconomic household surveys can be economically and promptly administered.

  • Sound statistical surveys of citizens’ own experiences and perceptions yield insightful and policy‐relevant results to respond to the SDG 16 measurement challenges. Cross‐country comparisons have proved feasible, enlightening and informative. Yet in addition to the methodological options, the survey implementation process and institutional arrangements need to be suitable, in particular to avoid donor‐driven or top‐down processes.

  • The responsibility for institutionalising the production of governance data should be conferred on official NSOs. First, these institutions have the expertise: their proficiency in established statistical standards and procedures stands as a guarantee of data reliability. Second, governance data should be considered a public good like other economic and social statistics, and NSOs have the official legitimacy to collect such data.

  • NSOs in both transitional and democratic states are interested in and capable of conducting surveys on governance, peace and security issues.