Population and Housing Census Starts in Mongolia

From 11-17 November, the 10 yearly Census will be conducted in Mongolia. During this nationwide population count, all people who are residing in the country will be counted, including stateless persons and foreigners who have lived in Mongolia for more than 183 days.

More than 13.000 paid volunteers will go from door to door to take the questionnaires during these 7 days. All persons are requested to answer questions about the number of people of the household, the living conditions and other socio-economic issues. The Census will bring the government and development partners a wealth of information that will be helpful for policy formulation and the distribution of resources.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) support the government in undertaking this nationwide exercise. UNFPA Representative to Mongolia, Ms. Argentina Matavel Piccin, explains the importance and challenges of conducting the Census in Mongolia.

What is the importance of a Population and Housing Census?
Governments and their development partners need to know about their most important asset: the People and their particular characteristics. They need to know how many people they are planning for. Also, the level of detail of the information is crucial: the Census will yield information on different population groups disaggregated by sex, age and vulnerabilities that a country has in its different geographic locations. Depending on these groupings, programs and policies may need to be tailored accordingly. From a UN perspective, we want to ensure that every citizen’s Human Rights can be realized.

What are the challenges for conducting a Census?
In Mongolia, we are very lucky to have a Government that is committed and has allocated enough funds for this costly exercise. Also, the capacity of the National Statistical Office is good.

UNFPA has invested large amounts of resources to build countries’ technical capabilities through the organization of international trainings at global, regional and national levels, to ensure that the 2010 round of censuses produces data that is reliable and comparable across countries.

A typical challenge for Mongolia is the difficult terrain with poor or inexistent infrastructure. For example here, the terrain is vast and you may have people living in some very remote and inaccessible mountainous area. Those people need to be reached as well and that takes a lot of time and efforts. In some countries, there is political unwillingness to know the population number or the Census is politicized, i.e. politicians wanting census results to benefit their particular agendas. A famous word coined for such a phenomena in the USA is ‘gerrymandering’, in other words a certain politician called Gerry manipulating population data to redraw administrative lines to benefit his own district.

How many countries are conducting census in 2010? Do all countries count their people at the same time or at different times within the 10-year cycle?
Countries conduct censuses at different times. UNFPA launched the 2010 round of census initiative spanning the period 2006 to 2015, in an attempt to encourage all countries to count their people. Of the 230 countries and areas of the World that report to the United Nations Demographic Yearbook, a total of 194 have conducted a census since 1995. Some only have to count 100 people – very small islands – others count a billion people or more – China, India.

Much more remains to be done. Only 52% of African countries have conducted a census in the last 20-30 years, compared with for example 99% in Europe and 95% Asia.

You are observing Mongolia’s preparations for its Census. Any thoughts to share?
UNFPA is not just observing but working alongside the National Statistics Office to ensure that Mongolia has a successful Population and Housing Census that produces timely, disaggregated and reliable data that the Government and all its partners can use to make evidence-based policy and planning that serves the needs of the Mongolians. I am confident that with all the investment put to its preparations, Mongolia will have a very successful Census. I take this opportunity to acknowledge and congratulate the Government of Mongolia for the political will and resources committed to this important exercise, and to encourage everyone to be counted in the 2010 Census.
source: The UB Post
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