New CountrySTAT Implementation Strategy and Short-Term Actions , concept note



The New CountrySTAT aims at establishing an integrated network of national and international agencies for sharing knowledge and data, primarily on food security, nutrition and agriculture.

The Network

The “Network” is based on four main components: a) the technological means to manage and share data, b) the institutional framework for establishing partnership agreements   and data governance, c) the statistical and sector-specific know-how to guarantee the data quality and; d) the knowledge required to develop simple and complex analyses using available data. 

The Network is an innovative tool for strengthening the dialogue and for creating a common technical ‘language’ among partners of different cultures and backgrounds. Similarly to any other language, the information flowing through the Network is subject to a well-defined set of rules, definitions and conventions that ensure a common understanding of the underlying concepts, structures and contents. These rules and conventions are made available through online documents and, at a more technological level, through the metadata. 

The ability to link many different information systems and expertise makes the Network extremely versatile and suitable to facilitate stakeholders’ collaboration on a large variety of subjects and for strengthening the decision making process. Accordingly, the Network has high potentials to efficiently make data and expertise available across the world and to improve awareness on important issues such as food security status in emergency conditions, critical environmental or economic situations, detection of value-investing development areas, etc.

The technical requirements for linking data and systems to the Network are communicated to national and international partners through meetings, trainings and workshops, which are also essential resources to raise awareness of the opportunities offered by the Network and its future applications.

In this context, the New CountrySTAT is one of the key tools to encourage national and international agencies in contributing to this data/knowledge sharing process and in getting actively involved in the implementation of systems, methods and standards.

Strategic approach of the new system

The New CountrySTAT represents an evolution in respect to the past strategic approach. The emphasis moves from pure compilation and dissemination of data to the delivery of information products and customized tools in support of decision-making in relation to well-identified topics and contexts (e.g. agrarian reform in Zimbabwe, drought in the Sahel, food price monitoring in Kenya, etc.). 

Data compilation, harmonization and dissemination, key activities of CountrySTAT since the beginning of the project, will be maintained and strengthened. However no pre-defined content and structure of data and systems are promoted and implemented anymore; these are directly defined by the beneficiaries and partners themselves, in coordination with FAO. 

To support this approach, the New CountrySTAT provides a customizable “menu of options” inclusive of statistical, institutional and technological components to be adapted for the specific issues to be addressed and areas of interest. The overall approach is based on the definition of “use-cases” picturing how tools and data should be used for supporting context-specific analyses and reporting, or for generating relevant information products. The process of defining the use-cases requires a thorough understanding of the subjects under consideration and a good knowledge of existing systems, practices, data and methodologies to be acquired through national/regional needs assessments. The involvement and active participation of the national/regional partners in the design of the system and in the implementation of the activities is essential. The partners implementing the system decide on the specific analytical modules to be made available through the New CountrySTAT and indicate what features and functionalities are more appropriate for the specific use-cases.

Besides the technical support to countries and regions, the New CountrySTAT aims at strengthening or seeking collaboration and synergies with international agencies and initiatives, such as AMIS, UNECA, IFAD, SADC, IMF, etc. on different areas such as data sharing (e.g. the implementation of common data sharing protocols such as the Statistical Data and Metadata eXchange - SDMX - standards), country-level assistance, methodological improvements, etc. Data is distributed as public good (in conformity with the Open Data approach) and therefore the information available in the system (e.g. datasets, geospatial data, text, charts, models, etc.) is made easily and widely accessible. For this purpose, various data sharing options are provided: interactive download in different formats; extraction/use of data via APIs; export to well-known formats such as SDMX.

The New CountrySTAT is versatile, ready for multi-purpose use and designed to support the above-mentioned Network concept. It might be used to improve national/regional data dissemination systems, for collecting crowdsourced data as well as for monitoring environmental indicators using remotely sensed images. The CountrySTAT partners may manage data and include software tools on the basis of their specific requirements.

The technical team of the New CountrySTAT is a key resource of this service-oriented and demand-driven approach. Depending on the “packages” and type of services requested by the partners, the team provides expertise, technical assistance and relevant contacts. The New CountrySTAT takes also advantage of the overall FAO technical and institutional knowledge for referring to, and making use of in-house experts and specialized services, relevant for the requested assistance and collaboration. 


Key resources

•The integration of FAOSTAT data within the New CountrySTAT is of primary importance. One of the main objectives of the former CountrySTAT strategy was to access national data in order to improve FAOSTAT statistics. While this remains an important target, the objective of the new system is to guarantee the availability of FAOSTAT data to CountrySTAT users. This is expected to enhance the value of FAOSTAT and make its data readily available for national partners, who will be able to combine them with other national and international data.


•The New CountrySTAT foresees the enhancement and re-definition of the role of the Technical Working Groups (TWG), which become reference points for, and facilitators of national/regional consultations and knowledge-exchange. While the main activities of the TWGs were used to exclusively deal with data harmonization and compilation (mainly to conform national data to FAOSTAT standards), their new role is also to: a) define key agriculture and food security indicators, b) indicate requirements for  quality assessment/quality control tools (QA/QC), c) specify analytical requirements and types of output needed for agricultural and food security development planning, d) identify ways to monitor risk/vulnerability factors and e) select data for supporting emergency response strategies and actions. However, priorities and activities defined at national level through the TWG might impact on government staff’s time. For this reason, these need to be endorsed by the senior management, which is to provide indications and directions on time schedule and staff allocation.


•The New CountrySTAT strategy promotes a proactive use of social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) and intense participation in discussion groups related to food security, nutrition, emergency response, monitoring of natural and man-made disasters, IT, etc. The participation to conferences and international events, as well as the development of online training and promotional material, is very important. This material will help implementing an effective communication strategy that promotes the system, raises awareness of its capabilities and ensures longer-term sustainability and expansion.




Four priority areas were identified:

1) Strengthening food price data collection and analysis

Requirement: Implement the collection of food market prices to provide more accurate and timely data 

Action: Introduce mobile technology related to CountrySTAT to collect and produce data in real time; a pilot project to be completed by March 2016 in key areas in Cameroon

2) Adapt the price application according to the needs of the various interested agencies

Requirement: Establish a system adapted to the specific needs of an agency (eg add livestock data for the needs of the Ministry of Livestock)

Action: Change CountrySTAT mobile technologies to collect data according to specific needs (eg livestock, trade and others).

3) Improve geo-spatial information collection and crop estimates areas through remote sensing and 


Improve estimates of crop acreage (and hence production) and geo-spatial information collection. Better handling of geospatial data such as administrative boundaries, livelihood zones, agro-ecological zones, climate information, production, etc

Action: Use the remote sensing model of the NASA-USGS to improve the estimation of crop yield and seasonal areas planted / harvested; calibrating data with data from the field using agents operating in the different “zones de vulgarization”. At the same time, improve localization of the structures.

4) Improve data access, dissemination and analysis

Requirement: Improve the current data storage system and strengthen the ability to access, dissemination and analyze of data from different sources

Action: expand the scope of CountrySTAT and include new areas; include tools to manage different types of data (eg GIS, satellite images) and customize the application and website based on specific user needs; add analysis modules