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Capacity Development


Capacity development is the third functional pillar of DESA’s overall mandate, alongside its normative and analytical work. The Population Division’s capacity development activities build upon the Division’s role as the organizational unit of the Secretariat with analytical and normative mandates in the field of population.


The Capacity Development programme aims to build and strengthen the capacity of countries to evaluate and analyse demographic information for the formulation and implementation of strategies and policies related to population and development.

Illustrative Projects

  1. Capacity Development in National Transfer Accounts
    DESA-Population Division implemented, in partnership with the regional commissions for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and Western Asia (ESCWA) a project entitled "Strengthening capacity of national policy analysts in the social and economic sectors of developing countries in the production and use of National Transfer Accounts". The project aims to improve the capacity of government officials and country analysts to use national data to produce statistical estimates based on the National Transfer Accounts framework, which will facilitate improved policy dialogue and analysis regarding the economic and social consequences of changing population age structures. The project resulted in the publication of the NTA manual in 2013. This project was funded by the Development Account.
  2. Capacity Development in Population Estimates and Projections in Sub-Saharan Africa
    The Population Division, in partnership with the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), is implementing a project entitled: "Strengthening capacities of developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa to effectively produce and use population estimates and projections in policy-making for sustainable development”. The project aims to building greater capacity in 17 African countries to produce, analyse and utilise population estimates and projections using state-of-the-art methods and tools in formal demography. It will also address analysis and dissemination of data through training and use of new information technology tools and platforms. Countries will participate in training activities based on their demand and their capacity to produce the necessary data for population estimates and projections. This project is funded by the Development Account.
  3. Regional Workshop on the Production and Use of Migration data
    The Population Division and the Statistics Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, are organizing a regional workshop for selected countries of Northern and Western Africa on the collection and use of international migration data for development. The workshop will take place at the African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP) in Dakar, Senegal, from 8 to 11 September 2015. The workshop will bring together experts from national statistical offices in charge of producing official statistics on international migration as well as experts from relevant ministries or agencies in charge of compiling and analysing migration data for policy purposes. Experts from international organizations will be invited to participate as resource persons.

    This activity was supported by the Government of Italy through the project "Capacity Development in Production and Use of Data for Formulating Evidence-based Policies on Migration and Development in Africa". [Read more]
  4. Workshop on the Production of Population Estimates and Demographic Indicators
    The Population Division in collaboration with the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), will organize a regional workshop for the anglophone countries in sub-Saharan Africa to improve national capacity in the production and use of population estimates and demographic indicators for policy making for sustainable development. The workshop will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 5 to 9 October 2015. The project is funded by the United Nations Development Account.


  1. Demographic manuals
    Twenty-three manuals and guides of demographic methods and techniques have been issued by the Population Division since 1952. The manuals are concerned with formal descriptive, analytical and projection methods with an emphasis on techniques adapted to or specially designed for countries with insufficient data.
  2. Demopaedia
    The Population Division has supported the development of an innovative online Wiki-based multilingual encyclopedic demographic dictionary, Demopaedia, which promotes knowledge transfer as well as international cooperation by providing a common conceptual reference framework in many different languages. Demopaedia is built around the harmonisation of technical demographic terminology in fourteen different languages including those in the six official UN languages.


  1. DESA Capacity Development Office


For more information about the capacity development activities of the Population Division please contact the Office of the Director, Population Division, United Nations, 2 United Nations Plaza, Rm. DC2-1950, New York, NY 10017 USA, Telephone + 1-212-963-3179, Facsimile + 1-212-963-2147 population@un.org