The 19th of October 2018 marked the World Statistics Day. Understandably very few citizens, particularly those who may not be strong in academic inclination, know about this day, let alone its significance or relevance to their own lives. As other special days, the World Statistics Day represents an opportunity to reflect on pertinent statistical matters and take stock of progress made at various levels, from the local to the global community, in capturing distributions and frequencies of populations in relation to given human or community development indicators.
Clearly, the world has recently celebrated the World Statistics Day on the back of impressive progress on general health statistics mostly because there are systems now in place to allow data on relevant indicators to be captured at the point of care. The world has done well too in informing economic planning through documenting statistics related to employment rates, production levels, gross domestic products (GDP) and so forth. Flows of immigrants and emigrants who pass through official borders and formal means are properly documented and statistics are readily available for all to see. This is probably because of the growing salience in many countries of tourism and the revenue that it generates. Increasingly, emphasis on gender-sensitive statistics is gaining momentum, where figures have to be disaggregated by sex for all indicators. The world is, therefore, knowing the areas where women are more advanced than or lagging behind, men — something that has worked wonders in informing efforts at advocacy for gender parity.
However, it must be stated that in most low—to—middle—income countries (LMIC), statistics are generally scarce because of poor funding for research in these countries. It is particularly worrying that there is very little statistical evidence on the prevalence and/or incidence of disability in African countries, including Zimbabwe. The little available statistics on disability do not distinguish between the dynamics associated with different disability types, as all persons with disabilities (PWD) are classified as one homogeneous group. The statistics further do not tell what circumstances face girls and women versus boys and men with disabilities.
Africa Community Development and Research Center (ACDRC) has taken it upon itself to initiate and drive the process of enumerating persons with disabilities and circumstances facing them to inform disability-inclusive policies and programs. In partnership with Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe and a consortium of United Nations agencies, including UNESCO, UNDP and UNFPA, ACDRC is currently gathering data in 20 Zimbabwean districts on the needs and aspirations of persons with disabilities as well as the influence of cultural beliefs, practices and social norms on the well—being of this group. Findings of the study will be disseminated in November 2018, but so far one of the major recurring revelations of the research is that all sampled districts do not have any government or non—governmental agency with data on the prevalence of disability. This is the leading reason why persons with disabilities are marginalized in Zimbabwe. Let the positive change start now!