UN joint monitoring mission helps ensure quality of Viet Nam’s 2009 census

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censusApril 2009, Hanoi - More than 40 United Nations staff from five agencies in Viet Nam (UNFPA, UNDP, UNICEF, UNIFEM and UNAIDS) joined staff from Viet Nam’s General Statistics Office and other partners to help monitor the 2009 Population and Housing Census in 21 provinces during 1-15 April of 2009. This was the first time that UN agencies in Viet Nam jointly monitored a national census, and their work underscored the importance of quality data for both the Government and the UN.

“These joint UN monitoring trips demonstrate how the UN Country Team is working together as one so as to better provide recommendations to the Government on how census enumerations can be further improved. Supporting the 2009 Census is a key priority for the United Nations as it will provide the Government with the detailed information required to undertake more robust socio-economic development planning for the next ten years,” said John Hendra, the United Nations Resident Coordinator.

The UN, particularly through UNFPA, assisted in planning for the census and designing the questionnaires, and provided input during the testing, piloting, training and monitoring phases. The UN also supported a publicity campaign of the census and is currently engaged in post-enumeration data analysis and dissemination activities with the Government.

One purpose of the monitoring trips was to advocate for and reinforce the importance of the national census enumeration, so that more efforts and resources will be made available by Government authorities at all levels, thereby helping to ensure the quality and success of the census.

Data provided by the 2009 Census is key to assessing implementation of the 2001-2010 Socio-economic Development Strategy (SEDS) and is critical to preparation of the upcoming 2011-2020 SEDS. The data will also provide useful information for monitoring progress on the Millennium Development Goals.

“We firmly believe that the quality of decision making depends on the accuracy of the information. The 2009 Census will provide us with key information and data that will help us to better support the Government in designing and implementing development programmes,” said Mr Bruce Campbell, UNFPA Representative.   

Employing 250,000 enumerators, 42,000 supervisors and some 6,000 central, provincial and district staff, the census is an expensive project.  The Government shouldered the bulk of the US$ 33 million cost, with the UN contributing US$ 3 million.

“Many people say that the census is costly, but if we compare the amount per person with other countries in the region, it is much cheaper. On the other hand, if our programmes were formulated on low quality data, it would be even more costly,” added Mr Bruce Campbell.

Suzette Mitchell, UNIFEM Country Manager, participated in the trips to Bac Ninh and Bac Giang provinces, and noted the preponderance of men as both enumerators and supervisors. “The recruitment process for the enumerators could be looked at further for the next census. The limited number of female enumerators not only means women miss this interesting opportunity to learn and gain a small income from the work, but in some cases it is more appropriate for women to be interviewing single women or women in dormitories, rather than having men coming into these women’s residences on their own.”

The 2009 Census collected data on population size, structure and distribution, migration, as well as information on education, qualifications, economic activity, disability, fertility, reasons of death (to estimate the maternal mortality rate), and information on housing conditions such as floor area, number of rooms, safe water use, telephone and computer usage and type of fuel used for cooking.