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Development Account Projects

Strengthening the capacities of developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa to effectively produce and use population data in policymaking for sustainable development


The evidence-based formulation, implementation and monitoring of policies and strategies aimed at sustainable, equitable and inclusive development require reliable and up-to-date key demographic data and indicators. In the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, entitled “The future we want” (General Assembly resolution 66/288, annex), world leaders reaffirmed the importance of population trends and projections in development strategies and policies and the need for Governments to strengthen their national capacity to carry out sustained and comprehensive programmes on the collection, analysis, dissemination and utilization of population data.

The challenges posed by the growth in the global population (expected to reach 9 billion by 2050) and rapidly changing population dynamics (including low fertility, ageing and international and internal migration) are manifold and require increased capacity in countries to produce and analyse the necessary population data.

The survey conducted by the Population Division in 2008-2009 assessing countries’ demands for development cooperation with respect to field population estimates and projections provided evidence of the limited capacity of the national statistical offices of many developing countries to produce reliable estimates of key demographic indicators and to generate timely and sufficiently detailed population projections for use in development planning. Given that demographic data and indicators are not only essential to assess progress towards specific development goals, but also components of almost all other development indicators, the urgency of strengthening national capacity in this area is evident. The Population Division has maintained a constant dialogue with experts in national statistical offices to address their requests for technical assistance and clarifications regarding methodological issues in relation to population data. Many countries have repeatedly expressed their need and interest with respect to participating in training programmes in order to produce their own estimates, including Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. In addition, several countries have explicitly requested the assistance of experts from the Department of Economic and Social Affairs in the production of population estimates and projections.

The project is aimed at building capacity in countries to produce, analyse and utilize population estimates and projections. It will also address the analysis and dissemination of population data through training on and the use of information technology tools and platforms. Countries will participate in training activities based on their demand for and capacity to produce the data necessary for population estimates and projections. Ad hoc missions will be carried out to a smaller group of countries in which statistical capacity is less developed, in order to provide more extensive training to several staff of the National Statistical Office. A larger number of countries will participate in the training workshops.

The project will be implemented in close collaboration with the Statistics Division, which will ensure assistance in maintaining a continuous dialogue with National Statistical Offices and in providing any necessary follow-up, and in consultation with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). In addition, the training materials and other guidelines will be available online, together with other tools to be developed by the Population Division that will provide access to empirical data used in population estimates and to a full description of the estimation and projection process.


To support the integration of issues related to population dynamics, including high fertility and population growth, low fertility, ageing and migration, into development policies and strategies in selected target countries in sub-Saharan Africa by improving the availability and use of key population data and indicators

Expected accomplishments:

  • Increased capacity of National Statistical Offices of the selected countries to produce population estimates and projections
  • Improved dissemination of population data and increased use of demographic data and indicators in evidence-based policymaking

Implementation status:

In progress.