New York City, September 14, 2013 – During my years of work in Non-Profit sector and particularly in South Sudan, I never had to deal with statistics on populations and other demographics. Though I noted and kept number of beneficiaries for the sake of projects monitoring and evaluations, I was never required to know what UNICEF, UNESCO or UNDP statistics said about the work I did. This was because we saw and experienced the situation we wanted to change. It was all about what is the problem? How can it be addressed? Are the resources available? What will be the impact? How is impact measured? And boom – we hit the road running to get the work done. I guess the nature of the projects and funding support may have dictated that style.
Currently though, I am in an unfamiliar territory here in New York City. In this new work environment, research and statistical numbers of countries, people, and specifically the foreseen beneficiaries of projects are of critical significance. All other questions are still asked but there is some focus on getting the numbers right or available to back up funding argument. I did not have to deal with this in my previous assignments because we were implementing and not fund-raising. Here funders are established and knowledgeable companies and individuals whom dimes and pennies ought to be extracted via both narratives and statistical justifications. Making case for funding in this city seems hectic and even cumbersome for projects going overseas. There are so many players looking for funding from same donors and for the same water, livelihoods, health, and education ideas just to name a few.
In the past few days of my first week at work, I had the privilege to know about my country statistically. For instance, I now know that South Sudan’s primary school completion rate is 13.7 % for boys and 6.2 % for girls and that number of qualified Primary School teachers is just at 13%. These are real, although disheartening numbers. In the next six months I will be exposed to more statistics on South Sudan.
In New York City funders want their money backed by numbers from different UN, EU, AU and other big international bodies who have had the chance to gather such details in the field. What is challenging for South Sudan in this case is that, these numbers are limited to accessible locations. There are many areas that have no statistics collected, at least in the recent years because of where they are geographically located and accessibility obstacles, though citizens there need services. How such communities get funded through numbers  or statistics that are unavailable remains to be explored. It is one of the things I hope to learn here in this city.
I am amazed and astonished by what people at my work place know about South Sudan’s demographics statistically. They have acquainted themselves with percentage and ratio numbers for South Sudan. In fact, they sing them like songs when asked to give them up.
Now, I have the duty to learn from them and fit right into their shoes, produce research, write proposals with the team and hope to help gather right statistics to back my work. It is an unfamiliar task for me, but I am determined to learn to be an expert in finding statistics on various development issues in South Sudan and around the world.

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