Sweden’s development co-operation strategy frames statistical capacity as a means to ensure that actors in partner countries can effectively implement and monitor policies for sustainable development as well as participate in the global dialogue on the 2030 Agenda. The Swedish Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) provides funding for major data and statistical initiatives of multilateral organisations as well as long-term technical assistance projects, typically implemented by Statistics Sweden, the national statistical office. In line with its overall strategy, Sweden prioritises general statistical capacity building and strengthening of gender data and statistics. Over the last ten years, the regional focus of support to data and statistics has shifted from Asia and Europe towards partner countries in Africa.

Sweden’s 2016 Policy Framework for Swedish Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Assistance sets out five perspectives: poor people, rights, environment and climate, gender equality, and conflict. The Policy Framework establishes a clear poverty focus and reflects Sweden’s position as a global leader on gender equality. In line with these priorities and perspectives, the document defines a clear role for the strengthening of partner countries’ capacity to track progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals: “A lack of reliable data and statistics makes it difficult to follow up results in many countries. It is therefore important to support institution-building and the capacity to produce, analyse and provide relevant statistics by gender and age. As part of working towards openness and transparency in relation to the 2030 Agenda, Swedish development co-operation is to help to improve countries’ own statistics systems.” Based on this reasoning, Sweden highlights country ownership – supporting the development priorities of its partners – and long-term sustainability of support.

A substantial portion of Swedish bilateral official development assistance (ODA) to data and statistics is delivered by Statistics Sweden, which has been engaged in international statistical co-operation with sister institutions in low- and middle-income countries for over 40 years. These projects are built on long-term partnerships with clear goals and expectations, including in-country advisors in partner countries in Africa, America, Asia and Europe. They aim to build technical expertise around specific subjects, statistical methods, information technology, quality issues as well as the dissemination and communication of statistics. However, leadership and management of statistical organisations and processes are becoming increasingly important in this work. Sida also funds projects and programmes in support of data and statistics in Sweden’s partner countries.

According to OECD data and research,1 Sweden’s ODA for data and statistics averaged USD 24 million per year (in 2018 prices) in 2017-19 (Figure 1). Sweden’s partner countries, about 20 in any given year, tend to be low-income countries (LICs) in West and East Africa, although support is also provided to partners in Europe and, to a lesser extent, Asia and the Americas. Around three-fourths of Sweden’s country-allocable ODA to data and statistics went to fragile contexts.

Forty-three per cent of Sweden’s support is delivered through Swedish public sector agencies and 40% via multilateral organisations. In line with Sweden’s overall development strategy and its focus on capacity development and gender equality, a large share of Swedish ODA for data and statistics, 41%, aimed to improve general statistical capacity, with population and gender statistics accounting for 23% and 14%, respectively. In 2018, Sweden moved further towards strengthening gender statistics, committing SEK 80 million (USD 9.2 million) in support of UN Women’s flagship programme Making Every Woman and Girl Count.

Sweden’s co-operation projects have increasingly focused on building infrastructure for stable data management (such as information technology infrastructure), on branding and marketing of statistics, and on driving domestic resource mobilisation for statistics, which is often a severe constraint in its partner countries. While Sweden has traditionally engaged in bilateral partnerships, an increasing number of projects in recent years have been regional or global in scope. More regional and global partnerships, and increasing South-South co-operation facilitated by Sweden, have been emerging. For example, Sweden initiated in 2018 a regional development project for migration statistics in sub-Saharan Africa, bringing together regional economic communities to work together to develop better data on migration across the continent. Similarly, Sweden’s International Training Programme in Gender Statistics emphasises the need for peer-to-peer learning and both national and international networks. This programme was launched in 2016 to support countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East that wish to improve their capacity in gender statistics.

Sweden’s approach has primarily focused on long-term co-operation and on building integrated partnerships with sister institutions. Statistics Sweden’s programmes have a duration of around eight to ten years. Experiences have confirmed that ensuring that support is in line with the countries’ own priorities and strategies is crucial to maintaining sustainability and to achieving long-lasting development of a statistical system. Evaluations of long-term Swedish co-operation with Cambodia’s National Institute of Statistics and Scandinavian support to Mozambique’s national statistical system, for instance, have noted the success of technical assistance and highlighted the need for broad-based support of the system as a whole. This is underlined by the Swedish experiences of shifting support from capacity to produce statistics on issues of user engagement, planning processes and the dissemination of statistics. The placement of an on-site advisor to support the partner organisation is a fundamental aspect of Statistics Sweden’s support in statistical development and appears to be a key success factor for more sustainable outcomes.

Key policy objectives of Sweden’s ODA to data and statistics include participatory development and good governance and gender equality. In line with an important role for Statistics Sweden in Sweden’s overall support to statistics in its partner countries, general support to statistical capacity building accounted for 41% of its total funding for data and statistics in 2017-19 while 23% went to population statistics (Figure 2). Gender statistics, accounting for about 14%, are an emerging priority area for Swedish co-operation (see above), with Sida committing SEK 80 million (USD 9.2 million) to Making Every Woman and Girl Count, UN Women’s flagship programme on gender data aiming to support the monitoring and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals through better production and use of gender statistics.

In 2017-19, 65% of Sweden’s bilateral ODA to data and statistics was disbursed directly to partner countries, with the remainder supporting regional initiatives and global programmes. According to OECD data, almost half of Sweden’s ODA for data and statistics over this period was allocated to partner countries in sub-Saharan Africa, 17% to Europe, and smaller shares to Asia and the Americas. The top-5 recipients of Swedish ODA in this area between 2017 and 2019 were Mali, Mozambique, Somalia, Liberia and Albania (Figure 4). About one-fourth, nearly half of the country-allocable part, was targeted directly to LICs in 2019 and 70% was targeted to countries classified as fragile (Figure 5).

The geographic composition of Sweden’s ODA to data and statistics has been changing over the last ten years. While Africa accounted for 27% of the total at the beginning of the decade, the continent’s share increased subsequently and peaked at 55% in 2016. Also, at the beginning of the decade, only a very small share of Sweden’s support was allocated to regional or global programmes. However, that share has increased significantly, reaching almost 50% by 2019. Finally, the share of country-allocable ODA targeted to fragile contexts increased markedly, from 23% in 2011 to about 75% after 2015.

In 2017-19, project-type interventions accounted for about half of Sweden’s ODA for data and statistics while contributions to specific programmes managed by implementing partners and pooled funding accounted for nearly 36% (Figure 6). Funding of experts and other technical assistance accounted for 11%. Except for a dip in 2016 and 2017, the share delivered in the form of programmes managed by implementing partners and pooled funding has increased in recent years, with pooled funding playing a key role in 2018 and 2019 and programmes managed by implementing partners an important aid modality over the 2013-16 period.

Sweden channelled its bilateral ODA to data and statistics through Swedish public sector agencies (43%) and multilateral organisations (40%). A smaller share went directly to partner country public sector agencies (13%) (Figure 7), with an increasing share in 2018 and 2019. Major programmes and projects supported by Sweden and implemented by multilaterals between 2017 and 2019 include, for instance, support to UN Women in 2018 for gender statistics (see above) and funding via the United Nations Population Fund for population and housing censuses and related work in Liberia and Mozambique (commitments of SEK 77 million/USD 8.9 million combined in 2018). Sweden also partners with the International Monetary Fund, supporting its Financial Sector Stability Fund, which provides technical assistance for financial sector diagnostics and strengthening of financial statistics (commitments of SEK 40 million/USD 4.6 million over the 2018-25 period). Finally, Sweden provided funding in 2019 for the United Nations Global Pulse initiative, which aims to use Big Data and artificial intelligence for development, humanitarian action and peace.


← 1. The analysis in this profile is based on official data reported by members to the OECD’s Creditor Reporting System. It is published under the responsibility of the OECD. OECD analysts mined the database using a text search with manual curation. Where relevant, members contributed additional data to fill gaps. Please see the methodological annex for further details on the data analysis.

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