Friday, 3 December, 2021

Census For Development

Demographic information is vital for devising development planning, policy and programmes. Population data are pooled from censuses, household surveys and routine data systems, which give insight into the size, social conditions and migration trend of people. Though a scientific analysis of population census provides data of people of particular time and place, it enables the government, private sector and international agencies to forecast social, economic and cultural aspects of rising population. A comprehensive census includes population data disaggregated by their age, sex, ethnicity, marital status, employment and level of income and education, among others. Demographic shift impacts the economic growth, investment, savings rates and pattern of consumption. An accurate demographic knowledge helps identify the development gaps and community needs.

The national and subnational governments evaluate the development works and mobilise resources by taking their cues from the quantitative and qualitative demographic facts. Although the national census is conducted at the interval of 10 years, efforts are made to acquire real-time data for population projections and budget allocation. Therefore, the ongoing 15-day national census is crucial to measure development and frame strategy in the aftermath of the adoption of federal administration. Following the 2017 three-tier polls, Nepal has entered into a new mode of governance to ensure inclusion, participation and fair distribution of resources and opportunities for the population of diverse ethnic backgrounds. Federalism is a system requiring broader political understanding and fair distribution of natural and fiscal resources among the three-layer governments.

Elected officials of altogether 753 local governments are nearing to complete their term in office. Next year new election cycle will start to pick the representatives of different layers of governments. The provinces and local units have accumulated good experiences in the last four years despite undergoing the teething problems. They are still in the need of demographic data of their respective territories to handle development, health, education and social welfare activities. Nepal has witnessed in-migration and out-migration on large-scales. There have been rising trends of migrating from hills and mountains to the Terai, from villages to cities and from country to foreign labour destinations owing to the several factors for years. According to the news report of this daily, policymakers and development planners need updated demographic information for planning and budget allocation, especially the grants distributed to the sub-national bodies based on population size.

This time around, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), the country’s census executing agency, is going to segregate data about the rural and urban society to examine whether the municipalities will fit into the definition of urban area. Unlike the 2011census in which the two sets of questionnaire were created – one for census and another for survey, the ongoing census has incorporated 80 questions together to gather comprehensive data of the respondents with the objective of meeting the demands of federal structure. In September and October, the CBS had collected the details of about 7 million families across the country under its household listing survey. The CBS is expected to publish the preliminary results of census by mid-March next year. These data are useful not only for setting out domestic development course but also meeting the Sustainable Development Goals as their 43 per cent indicators depend on demographic data. The 2030 Agenda stresses quality, accessible, timely and reliable disaggregated data to measure progress and ensure that no one is left behind.