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Getting the Numbers Right

ILRI/DMP Statistical Training Workshop, 1-5 November 2004, Niamey, Niger

Why statistics?

One of the major objectives of the Desert Margins Program is to build national capacities in scientific and technical skills needed for sustainable dryland development. Since DMP is a demand-driven partnership, it asked its member countries to identify the highest priority training needs. Three areas were repeatedly mentioned: statistics, geographic information systems, and modeling.

To address the first need, a statistics training workshop was organized at ICRISAT's Training and Visit Center (TVC). Course content was built around advice gathered in a survey of the DMP Coordinators all nine countries. It focused on experimental designs and analysis of data, with special emphasis on crop-livestock systems. Specific topics included descriptive statistics, tests of hypotheses, frequency distribution, experimental design, correlation and regression analyses, analysis of variance, interpretation and presentation of results, and introduction to the use of GENSTAT.

Course leader and participants

Mamadou Diedhiou, Head of the Biometrics Group at ILRI (Nairobi), was the instructor. The course was conducted in French. Twelve participants attended the workshop from Burkina Faso and Niger. Among the participants were Sylvian Ouedraogo (Assistant national coordinator for DMP Burkina Faso), Baina Danjimo (Assistant national coordinator for DMP Niger) and Amadou Moustapha who was recently appointed as director general of CILSS Institut du Sahel (INSAH), Bamako, Mali.


The participants were very positive in their evaluation of the course materials provided by the instructor, the delivery of the course, the relevance of the training to their professional activities and the organization of the workshop. The enthusiasm and dynamism of the instructor contributed significantly to the success of the workshop. Most of the participants remarked that the course outline was rather too much for the 5-day session and wished it could be extended next time. The training session they enjoyed most was the use of GENSTAT, followed by interpretation of results.

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