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Supporting the Census in Turkmenistan: Pilot for 2012 Population and Housing Census

12 June 2012

Last December, Turkmenistan conducted a pilot for the upcoming 2012 Population and Housing Census. The exercise helped to prepare and test the various aspects of the upcoming enumeration well in advance, to ensure that any necessary enhancements can be introduced in a timely manner, and covered more than 3,000 households from all regions.

UNFPA is the key agency supporting government efforts in conducting the census, in line with the 2010 UN Census round, and serves as a hub of international expertise.

Incorporating housing statistics for the first time

The Mamedov family took an active role in the December 2011 pilot. The young mother of recently-born triplets still remembers the first census conducted in 1995 following the country’s independence. This time around however, she noticed a change in the questionnaire, which included questions specifically relating to housing. This is because the recent pilot covered housing data from all regions for the first time. As a newly setup household, the Mamedovs feel that, by contributing to this exercise in demographics, they are making an important and valuable contribution to the country’s development.

The 2012 Population and Housing Census will be conducted by the State Statistics Committee of Turkmenistan at the end of the year and will be critical in providing data for the country’s socioeconomic development plans for many years to come. It will also help the government determine the needs for families like the Mamedovs.

“One of our most important tasks is to upgrade the national statistical methodology to international standards, introduce modern computer technologies for data collecting and processing, and staff statistical organizations with highly qualified specialists,” explained Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, President of Turkmenistan, on the occasion of World Statistics Day last October.

UNFPA: Providing pivotal support

UNFPA’s interventions in support of the 2012 Population and Housing Census began in 2007 and focused on bringing international expertise in methodology, technical data collection, analysis, capacity development, and census advocacy to support the successful census in-taking and ensuring the compliance with international standards and classifications.

Last year, the UNFPA country office in Turkmenistan was awarded a $40,000 census grant to provide support to the State Statistics Committee (SSC) of Turkmenistan for activities geared toward the pilot census undertaking. The census grant was part of a UNFPA initiative for the successful implementation of the 2010 UN round of population and housing censuses.

With the support of this grant, UNFPA helped Turkmenistan bring in the necessary international expertise to improve pilot census methodology, strengthen the capacity of nearly 150 supervisors and enumerators, and adapt the effective use of the geographic information systems (GIS) technologies on a country-wide level.

“Since the GIS software was originally procured only for the State Statistics Committee, the process of developing and maintaining the maps was slow, which made it difficult to keep them up-to-date,” explained Esen Artykov, census focal point for Turkmenistan’s State Statistics Committee. “The UNFPA grant covered the procurement of additional software for regional departments, enabling them to make necessary changes independently of the central office in their local and regional maps. This significantly expedited the process.”

“The interest and participation of families like the Mamedovs in the pilot census will ensure the collection of evidence-based and reliable data,” noted Artykov. “If people actively participate in the complete census as they Mamedovs did during the pilot census, successful census in-taking is ensured.”

The results of the upcoming Population and Housing Census together with the current statistical data will provide Turkmenistan with reliable information to further develop evidence-based national social and family programmes, as well as measures aimed at improving the demographic processes in the country and its regions.