Population housing census and hybrid method support

Today, with major demographic shifts occurring and attention focused on international development, accurate and timely data are more important than ever. A census can represent a country, down to the smallest administrative unit, if conditions allow for it. Territories where a traditional census cannot be conducted countrywide due to inaccessible hard-to-reach areas, disasters or lack of infrastructure, the revolutionary hybrid method helps to generate quality population data everywhere.


Population housing census

Afghanistan © UNFPA/Lorenzo Tugnoli

Why it matters

The information generated by a population and housing census – numbers of people, their distribution, their living conditions and other key data – is critical for development. Without accurate data, policymakers do not know where to invest and how to make the best most informed decisions about development is. Those most in need remain invisible. Yet too many countries have outdated or inaccurate information about their populations. A census is among the most complex and massive peacetime exercises a nation undertakes. It does not merely count people but can also measure fertility, mortality and movement, helping to predict demographic trends. Census data can shine a light on inequalities in employment, education and wealth.

Our solution

With the support of UNFPA as the United Nations’ lead implementing agency, the GRID3 partnership provides high-quality assistance to the implementation of high-resolution geo-referenced population and housing censuses and hybrid methods. Conducting these efforts means mapping an entire country, deciding what technologies should be employed, mobilising and training legions of enumerators, conducting a major public awareness campaign, canvassing all households, collecting individual information, compiling hundreds of thousands – or millions – of completed questionnaires, monitoring procedures and results, and analysing, utilising and disseminating the results.

Hybrid Method

© UNFPA Viet Nam/Nguyen Thi Hong Thanh

Why it matters

Complete population numbers at all levels are fundamental for development applications, including the delivery and planning of services, election preparation and response to disasters. In less and least developed countries or hard-to-reach settings recent and reliable demographic data can often be lacking or incomplete. National population and housing census data can be outdated, inaccurate or missing key groups or areas that can’t be reached by traditional enumeration. Further, accurate boundary data are often limited, and high rates of migration and urban growth make existing data quickly outdated.

Our solution

The goal of the hybrid method is to go beyond the reach of traditional censuses by producing high resolution population estimates (100x100m grid cells) to address undercoverage in a traditional national census. The hybrid method relies on complete counts of population within small, defined areas, through ‘micro-census surveys’. Statistical models are then used to link these micro-census data to spatial data with full coverage over the regions of interest to predict population numbers in the unsampled locations. By aggregating these high-resolution predictions, population totals can be produced for administrative units or for the national and sub-national level to produce the most complete censuses to date in countries where full coverage through traditional censuses is not possible. To find out more about the population estimates, please click here.

High-resolution population estimates

Mapping subnational boundaries

Comprehensive settlement locations

Locating critical infrastructure

Capacity strengthening

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