Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Population census crucial tool for MDG progress

Censuses and population data have been described as critical elements in the development processes and humanitarian responses as well as monitoring recovery from crisis situations to meet Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

It was for that reason, according to Sarah Masale, Officer ÔÇôin -Charge, at the Office of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) that after every given period a country has to carry out a census as an important national initiative and the only statistical operation that covers the whole population in a country.

Masale said, “A census provides information about population growth, its size, movement of people, age/sex structures and urbanization as well as the spatial distribution of a country’s population.”
Speaking at a recent celebration of the Word Population day in Jwaneng, the UNFPA then pointed out that once such variables are captured or unpacked by the census they would then inform and guide decisions on policy and programmes to reduce poverty and advance education, health and gender equality.

In that regard, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban-Kin Moon, was quoted as saying that, access to good data is a component of good governance, transparency and accountability. That is only on the basis of information that is public that citizens can be able to interrogate policy and the extent of delivery by the relevant authorities.

Countries of the World entered into an agreement at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, Egypt in 1994 on the need to strengthen their national capacities to be able to carry out sustained and comprehensive programmes on collection, analysis, dissemination and utilization of population and development data.

Thus, the UNPA official expressed the view that this year’s commemoration of the World Population Day offered an opportunity to reflect on progress made in producing valid reliable and quality data.
Mbiganyi Tibone, Assistant Minister of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) concurred with the UNPA official regarding the significance of the day.

“It is important to note that this year’s commemoration comes at the commencement of the count down towards the target date-in 2014- of the Plan of Action committed to by UN members at the ICPD in 1994,”said Tibone.

He added that it was at this conference that the linkage between population and development was acknowledged.

Moreover, 201 also marked the last leg for the countdown towards the target dates of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015 and the country’s declared national vision timed at 2016.
Interestingly, the Cairo Plan of Action highlighted the importance of data for development.
On that note, Tibone mentioned that the achievement of both the MDGs and Vision 2016 hinged heavily on the use of statistical data.

The MFDP is charged with the coordination of the implementation of both the Cairo plan of Action and the MDGs. By the same token the MFDP has always spearheaded development planning, actualized through the national development plans (NDPs), and the latest is NDP 10 which is scheduled to coincide with Vision 2016.

Notwithstanding the expectations of the Cairo Plan of Action and the acknowledged linkage between population and development, the extent to which the pattern and distribution of development benefits equitably spreads to the population remains a matter of debate and guesswork.

Professor Gobopamang Letamo of the University of Botswana, Department of Population Studies recently expressed concern, at the official launch of the Population Association of Botswana (PAB), that thorough analysis of the information collected by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) which also spearheads the censuses was somewhat lacking.

He explaining why PAB was formed, Letamo indicated that PAB was conceived 3-4 years ago after recognizing that for most of the time development planning in this country was done it tended to leave out population variables.

He said that factors such as migration, mortality rate as well as fertility have impact on development planning in like manner as the latter has affects qualitative output of the cited factors.

“In this regard we aim through the initiative to bring together experts and as many stakeholders as possible to share their experiences and views about issues of population and development,” posited the UB Professor.

As for the UNFPA, Masale made the point, “We believe that with quality data we can better track and make greater progress to achieve the MDGs. We can effectively promote and protect the dignity and human rights of all people.”

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