At Long Last

April 23, 2007

Via Xinhua/People’s Daily Online:

UNFPA to help Afghan gov’t launch national census

The UN Agency for Population Fund ( UNFPA) would support the government of Afghanistan to launch a national census, Executive Director of the agency Thoraya Ahmed Obaid said Monday.

“UNFPA is supporting the government to conduct its first full national census. The result will help determine the approaches needed to address Afghanistan’s most pressing social and economic development needs,” she told newsmen at a press conference after arriving in Kabul.

The project would be launched in 2008 while a pilot census will begin by July this year.

No complete census has taken place in Afghanistan over the past 30 years.

The project for national census would cost around 60 million U. S. dollars, Obaid’s colleague and Regional Director to Asia- Pacific Sultan Aziz said.

Source: Xinhua

All we can say is: about time.

It is striking that more than five years after the collapse of Taliban, and about 30 years after the last national census was held in Afghanistan, finally some attention being paid to this important, baseline national indicator that figures prominently in discussions about national identity and political representation as well as in reconstruction and macro-economic policymaking (workforce data, unemployment rate, social security and retirement benefits, etc.)

There are those who have questioned the accuracy of the last national census (1981?) in debates about, you got it right, ethnic composition of Afghanistan. Hopefully the upcoming survey in 2008 will put these speculations to rest once and for good. Also, a few days ago here on Safrang we had our own little discussion related to this topic. The episode revealed to me the inherent difficulty of not having reliable statistical data to fall back on (and no, CIA Factbook does not meet those standards.)

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