International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

Thematic Report: Socio-Economic Analysis

The TDA can also benefit from having a detailed socio-economic analysis as a thematic report, again separate from the body of the TDA. The thematic report should be a full analysis that is summarized in the TDA highlighting the most important findings.

The socio-economic analysis should focus on the social and economic setting in the impacted project area.  Whenever possible, the data should be standardized when comparing in between countries. National statistic agencies often have a great deal of information, though care should be taken to review how, where and when data was collected. It is best to have a national expert collect this data rather than an international expert if possible.  This information can then be compared to the international level data that is available from the World Bank, UNDP human development report and other databases including FAO, WHO and the International Labour Organization. When collecting this data, be sure to read the description of what that data is actually asking and how that data is collected.

The data then needs to be broken down into demographic information, social information and economic information as sectoral information. For demographic data, it will depend on the type of water system and what the project trying to address. Indicators such as overall population are important, as are other indicators such as average age of population, urbanization rates and population per square km.

Public health information is also important to collect. This can be measured through life expectancy at birth, infant mortality, percentage of malnourished population, percentage of poverty, and percentage of access to health care of population.

Box 6: Poverty – A source of information

Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) are prepared by the member countries through a participatory process involving domestic stakeholders as well as development partners, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Updated every three years with annual progress reports, PRSPs describe the country's macroeconomic, structural and social policies and programs over a three year or longer horizon to promote broad-based growth and reduce poverty, as well as associated financing needs and major sources of financing.

Interim PRSPs (I-PRSPs) summarize the current knowledge and analysis of a country's poverty situation, describe the existing poverty reduction strategy, and lay out the process for producing a fully developed PRSP in a participatory fashion. The country documents, along with the accompanying IMF/World Bank Joint Staff Assessments (JSAs), have been made available on the World Bank and IMF websites by agreement with the member countries.

There may also be a need to collect wider demographic information such as ethnic diversity, religion, age of population, migration trends, population growth rate, urbanization rates, number of people per square kilometer, etc. This information presents a broader picture of the issues the project is dealing with as well as what conditions the wider stakeholder community is working within.

GDP per capita is often a very important overall indicator of income within individual countries and across the region. Also look at the wider issues of income distribution - the GINI index can be used for this because often a large degree of wealth can be concentrated in the hands of a few individuals. Again this helps obtain a better picture of the social aspects that the project is working within.

It is also important to examine economic data. This can include employment rates by sectors and income for GDP by sector, among others. In addition, the analysis should focus on the different sectors that are important to the economies of the countries participating in the project. Again, this will vary according to the water system and what the project is trying to address. A trained social scientist or socio-economic expert can help to determine the best way forward for the project when conducting this analysis.