Press Release

Major European Commission Contribution to Facilitate Afghanistan's First Ever Census

07 December 2006

UNITED NATIONS, New York — The European Commission has contributed 15 million euros to UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, to help organize Afghanistan’s first full population census that will provide primary information on the number and characteristics of the country’s population. The only previous census, attempted in 1979, was interrupted by the outbreak of hostilities and never completed.

UNFPA is tasked with helping the Government of Afghanistan conduct the census, which was requested by the 2001 Bonn Agreement. The census initiative, the enumeration of which will take place in 2008, will also develop the capacity of the national statistical system, and raise awareness of its role and importance.

“We are very pleased with this generous contribution by the European Commission, which will be instrumental in helping the Government of Afghanistan to better analyze the demographic profile of its population,” said UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid. “This welcome initiative will also go a long way in providing the strategically essential ingredients needed to formulate the country’s long-term reconstruction and development plans.”

The census, to be conducted by Afghanistan’s Central Statistics Office, will delineate the boundaries of the country’s 34 provinces and 398 districts, and fix the positions of more than 38,000 villages. It will also digitally map approximately 48,000 enumeration areas covering the country; recruit and train more than 52,800 enumerators and 10,500 controllers, and develop a census questionnaire and detailed instruction manuals for them. In addition, the census will create a computer database for the information collected to be available to ministries, development organizations, the private sector and other users.

The census results will provide the Government of Afghanistan with much-needed information on the location and composition of the population. This information would help policy makers to determine the approaches needed to address Afghanistan’s most pressing development needs, including poverty eradication, education and health, employment, and energy and housing provision. The census will also provide the foundation for good governance and the information required to build up essential government institutions.

UNFPA has already completed a nationwide household listing exercise in Afghanistan, producing population estimates that were used in planning the political process and the parliamentary elections of September 2005. The Fund is currently assisting the Government in planning for the full census, scheduled to take place over a 20-day period in July 2008 and estimated to cost $44 million. This will be preceded by mapping of enumeration areas and a pilot census in 2007. The preliminary results of the full census are scheduled to be published in time for the next elections in 2009.

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UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.

Contact Information:

Alain Sibenaler
Tel.: +93 (0) 70 18 11 4951
Email: sibenaler@unfpa.org

Omar Gharzeddine
Tel.: +1 (212) 297-5028
Email: gharzeddine@unfpa.org

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