Reflections on Priority Research Needs Ronald C. Schoenmaeckers CBGS – Population and Family Study Centre
Who am I? Socio-demographer (which means that I am a sociologist who later also became a demographer); Some experience in census undertakings as associate expert/expert/CTA in Mauritania, Burundi, Togo, Chad; Have been a country monitor with the DHS Have some experience with the analysis of Belgian census data (fertility); Have recently been involved in the development of the projdoc of the RGPH 2003 in Madagascar
“Cost reduction” … is not necessarily “spending less money”; Can also be interpreted as making the census operation More efficientMore efficient More attractiveMore attractive More worthwhile…More worthwhile…
And I would immediately add more worthwhile not just for this relatively small club of statisticians and demographers (note that I am “counting myself in”), but to a whole lot of stakeholders – in fact to the entire community.
The core of my talk … Will not be on ‘innovative’ new technologies; Is not based on an in-depth analysis or a paper (in fact there is none); But will be my personal view as a sociologist/demographer who has spent a large part of his career in a multidisciplinary environment (the CBGS) and who has some experience in census undertaking in Africa
Furthermore… The talk will partly be based on what I’ve heard in the last 2-3 days; And what I will say is especially applicable I believe in countries which are in no position to cover all census expenditures on their own, but need the assistance of the international donor community
Let me start by reminding the different phases of a census operation…
The cost of a census, distributed by ‘operation’
The most expensive census operations obviously are Census mapping (35%)Census mapping (35%); and Data collection (45%)Data collection (45%) The least expensive ones are Data processing (9%)Data processing (9%); and Data analysis (12%)Data analysis (12%)
My basic argument to make an increase of the census cost acceptable would be to say that the census is a tool for socio-economic development (implying that it is not the sole domain of statisticians and demographers)
Of course we know that the census is a basic statistical operation, but… ‘technical’ meaningIn saying this we should not just think about the ‘technical’ meaning of this (e.g., baseline for further surveys); complementaryWe should also underline the fact that census and survey operations are complementary (totals and indicators vs explanatory power); and…
integrated approachConvince stakeholders that in fact a census is a very efficient tool/opportunity to underline the need for an integrated approach; common interestshereby underlining that they have common interests; work togetherthat they need to work together; that, through the census they all in their specific way contribute to increase the ‘well-being’ of the population; better life for allin sum … to a better life for all.
How to achieve this? How to achieve this? By including in the data analysis ‘new’ subjects such as Children Population ageing Women/gender issues Poverty Cf. the new thematic themes of Richard Dackam Eradicate poverty and hunger Achieve universal primary education Reduce child mortality and maternal mortality ratio (reproductive health) Combat AIDS Ensure environmental sustainability Cf. the Millennium Development Goals already presented by Graham Eele
In fact, in doing so We would be doing no less than to contribute implementing the objectives of the International Conferences organized by the UN during the last decade: Environment/Agenda 21Environment/Agenda 21 (Rio, 1992) ICPDICPD (Cairo, 1994) Social SummitSocial Summit (Copenhagen, 1995) Women’s rightsWomen’s rights (Beijing, 1995) Habitat IIHabitat II (Istanbul, 1996)
FAO, ILO, UNESCO, UNICEF, WFP, WHOIt is to expected that the explicit dealing with these ‘new’ themes will attract the interest of other specialized UN agencies next to UNFPA and UNDP to the census undertaking, such as: FAO, ILO, UNESCO, UNICEF, WFP, WHO, … UNDAFTheir collaboration can be insured through the recently created UNDAF-initiative (UN Development Assistance Framework), especially created for the implementation of joint development programmes
Of course the inclusion/analysis of new themes will create extra cost. However, it can be hoped for that the additional budget requirements (and even more) will be borne by the ‘new’ stakeholders. It needs to be realized that this ‘new’ collaboration will only fully work on the condition that the new partners participate in the census from its earliest stages (projdoc, budgetary allocations, time frame, …) Hence the importance of fully understand the complexities of a census operation … (see next)
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