Special Initiative on the Census: Supporting the 2010 Round

Resource date: 2010

Author: UNFPA

UNFPA's Special Initiative on Census was launched by the Executive Director to ensure that programme countries receive support to mobilize the funds and the technical capacity they need to complete a population census during the 2010 round (2006-2015). The ultimate goal of the initiative is to ensure that no developing country fails to carry out a Population and Housing Census during the 2010 census round either due to financial constraints or lack of technical capacity.

The Special Initiative brings together UNFPA's technical resources at headquarters and regional and country to support national efforts during the 2010 International Round of Censuses. The cornerstone of UNFPA support is channelled through the Country Programmes. The Special Initiative intends to enhance the support provided through UNFPA Country Programmes, by facilitating access to technical resources and training opportunities and by encouraging South-South cooperation across countries and regions.

The Special Initiative also undertakes to ensure that data generated from the 2010 census round are widely disseminated and extensively used for the preparation of development plans and programmes, as well as for their monitoring and evaluation.

Addressing complex challenges

The challenges are complex. Because the population and housing census typically occurs once every decade, it is hard to retain essential expertise in national statistical offices during the interim. Many experienced demographers or statisticians have moved on to the private sector or retirement. Conflict situations in many countries pose additional challenges.

That's why, one the activities of the Special Initiative is to maintain a database of census expertise worldwide, while another one is to improve technical support through diverse available resources, including a repository of relevant legal frameworks.

The Special Initiative can also assist National Statistical Offices to implement new technologies, such as geographic positioning system and mobile data entry devices, which have opened opportunities as well as challenges. While such technological advances can make data collection faster, more efficient and more reliable, inadequate handling of new technologies can be disastrous. They often demand initial investments in technology and training.

Supporting development goals

Supporting countries in the collection, analysis and dissemination of data for development is a critical component of UNFPA's mandate. Today, with major demographic shifts occurring and attention focused on meeting international development goals, the availability of accurate and timely data is more important than ever.

Efforts in this area will enhance the contribution to poverty reduction (by helping to identify groups needing special attention), empowerment of local communities (through enhanced access to local social and demographic data) and increased participation in local decision making (by increasing knowledge of local needs and demographic trends). These goals are in accordance with UNFPA Strategic Plan 2008-2011 and are at the core of UNFPA's mandate and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development.

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