Pacific islands making the move to electronic data collection

Photo credit: Unsplash, Adli Wahid

This story was originally published on Data for change website.

Between 2010 and 2020, many Pacific Islands and Territories have updated their traditional data collection processes, embracing new technologies. The island nations Kiribati and Vanuatu, among others, successfully switched to computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI), a new data management system and a survey monitoring dashboard. The innovations implemented with support from the Pacific Community helped to weather the impact of the pandemic on census activities and to become fit for the purpose of tracking the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


The CAPI format, for example, is cost effective and user friendly. The interviewers use a tablet, mobile phone or a computer to record answers. The technology’s self-correcting function means inconsistencies and mistakes are picked up and resolved during data capture, making the post-enumeration phase much more efficient.

In November 2020, Kiribati and Vanuatu embraced other technologies as well to conduct their national population and housing census. Both countries halted international travel following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, which meant technical assistance had to be provided remotely. To overcome some of the challenges, the Pacific Community developed a real-time, online data management system and interactive monitoring dashboard for both the national statistical offices in Kiribati and Vanuatu.

The technologies are critically important for island states like Kiribati, which comprises numerous islands dispersed over millions square kilometres of ocean. The survey monitoring dashboard, for example, addresses challenges in conducting face-to-face surveys in the region’s remote villages and communities.

“Surveys often require monitoring during data collection to ensure progress. Monitoring interviewers in face-to-face surveys is necessary as individual interviewer behaviour often contributes to the quality of surveys. Thus, accurate fieldwork monitoring is becoming more and more important,” explains Epeli Waqavonovono, Director of the Statistics for Development Division of the Pacific Community.

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Learn more about the Pacific Community, the United Nations Population Fund and the national statistical offices in Kiribati and Vanuatu.

Statistics for Development