Strengthening accountability and evidence-based policy-making in development planning is essential for maximizing development outcomes and impact in the face of resource scarcity.
The statement was made today by Zambia Statistics Agency Interim Statistician General Mulenga Musepa during the closing session of the Training Workshop on "Strengthening Capacities of African Governments for Integrated Accountability in National Development Planning" in Lusaka co-hosted with the Ministry of National Development Planning.
The Interim Statistician General said that “from a statistical point of view, we are advancing our agenda in view of reduced resources through an approach of “doing more with less”. This he added does not in any way imply a compromised on the quality of statistics or indeed our work; but rather embracing of more strategic thinking and planning.
“There is a need for the government departments to strengthen coordination of national development planning; national budgeting and financing systems; national and sectoral statistical systems, as well as Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) systems. The implication of this is that there is a need to create statistical and M&E portfolios at all levels of government structures and strengthen statistical capacities in all reporting structures” he added.
Mr Musepa further observed that ultimately, this will ensure that the implementation process of all development projects, programs and policies are in tandem an impactful to bring about transformative development in our institutions and the country as a whole.
Musepa said he is aware that strategic planning has been a key focus of this training, and hence they can expect a new crop of professionals with strengthened capacities in integrating accountability in the national development planning frameworks. “This is a key function as you serve in your various capacities as planners, statisticians, programmers or communication experts from government, civil society, the academic and media fraternities”, he stressed.
He said these capacities can only be sustained through change management underscored by deliberate shifts in our mindsets.
Meanwhile, Nefuno Kabwe who gave a vote of thanks on behave of the participants thanked the ECA and Ministry of National Development Planning for organising the training. She further urged the organisers to scale up the programme to train planners and development stakeholders at Province and District levels in capacities to use tools that will enable integrating accountability and evidence-based decision making in planning at the various levels.
"The training has enhanced our capacity to ensure planning and budgeting processes are accountable in national development," she said.
Sponsored by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and rolled out by the Macroeconomic and Governance Division of ECA, the just-ended workshop is part of a comprehensive UN Development Account Project aimed at beefing up the know-how of governments across five African pilot countries for integrating accountability in development planning.
Apart from Zambia, the four other countries benefiting from this situational analysis, strategy development, and knowledge-sharing package are Benin, Cameroon, Egypt and Kenya.
The eight-day training programme, which was held in Lusaka and co-organized by United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and Ministry of National Development Planning drew participation from policy and programme planners, statisticians and other national professionals from across the country.