Census is Key to Good Governance Says United Nations Population Fund

  • 28 November 2001

PRETORIA– The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says countries that adhere to principles of good and sustainable governance have to regularly conduct a national population census in order to have reliable population social and economic data.

“Good governance requires good population data, and good population data requires that a country plans and conducts a national census at least once every 10 years,” said Richard Leete, UNFPA's Chief of Population and Development.

Leete said that a census is the basis on which any democracy can determine various national and local social and economic priorities as well as define administrative and political boundaries.

Leete was speaking at a 4-day International Expert Group Meeting on Mechanisms for Ensuring Continuity of 10-year Population Censuses that began Monday in Rietvleidam, south of Pretoria. The meeting is hosted by Statistics South Africa, and funded by UNFPA and Partnership In Statistics for Development in the 21st century (PARIS 21). It is also being given technical and expert support by the European Union and the US Census Bureau. Over 40 countries are represented at the gathering.

"South Africa's recent census, the second after the country became a democracy in 1994, shows that the country is one of the success stories in Africa - an example from which developing countries in particular, can learn so much," said Leete.

He said that quite a number of countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, were unable to conduct censuses once every 10 years because of financial constraints and political instability.

"We believe that irrespective of a country's level of poverty or affluence, a census is an imperative," maintains Leete.

He has also called on donor countries to continue providing financial and technical countries to poor countries whenever they are planning their national population count.

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UNFPA is the world's largest multilateral source of population assistance. Since it became operational in 1969, it has provided more than $5 billion to developing countries to meet reproductive health needs and support sustainable development efforts.

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