Seminar participants advocate for accessible census 2023 data for development

Seminar participants advocate for accessible census 2023 data for development
ISLAMABAD, Mar 24 (APP):Participants at the seminar stressed the need for all stakeholders to guarantee the accessibility of detailed and disaggregated Census 2023 data to foster socio-economic development.
Participants at the “National Seminar on Utilization of Census Data in Development Planning,” organized by the Population Council with support from UNFPA, emphasized the significance of transparent and accessible data.
The varied group of stakeholders, including demographers, population experts, data analysts, researchers, and civil society organizations, urged for the prompt release of detailed data from the 7th Population and Housing Census-2023 (The Digital Census). This data is crucial for the formulation of the 13th Five-Year Plan by the Planning Commission, facilitating informed development planning and data-driven policy making, said a news release.
They underscored the importance of understanding census statistics for effective socio-economic planning. Ignoring population dynamics in development planning may lead to flawed and inequitable progress.
However, the effectiveness of census data in development planning relies on factors such as data availability, quality, utilization, and, most importantly, the significance accorded to census data as critical inputs for policy formulation.
In her welcome remarks, Dr. Zeba Sathar, the Country Director of the Population Council, emphasized the importance of the timely release and broad accessibility of the digital Census 2023 in her welcome address. She highlighted its critical role across various sectors, especially in shaping multiple aspects of the 13th Five-Year Plan.
Highlighting the crucial role of population and housing censuses in planning, Dr. Zeba Sathar emphasized their significance, particularly in addressing Climate Action and other Global Health risks. She urged the federal government, along with relevant ministries and departments, to prioritize the availability of detailed data to facilitate data-driven and nuanced development planning.
“Accurate information on population distribution of the specified area is required to understand the social vulnerability of different population groups during catastrophes like the floods and Covid-19”, she added.
Addressing the seminar, Dr Luay Shabaneh, Country Representative, UNFPA Pakistan said, “Development issues must be addressed using census data extensively.
Accountability and governance can only be improved through the utilization of data, particularly disaggregated data. Usage of data is crucial not just for planning purposes, but also for parliamentary proceedings, political and economic resource allocation at administrative units, civil society initiatives, and every facet of a nation and its society.” He emphasized the pivotal role of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) in educating policymakers and implementers on data utilization.
During the Seminar, a panel discussion was held, with distinguished experts sharing insights on the effective utilization of data in all aspects of development. Dr. G. M. Arif, former Joint Director of the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), commented, “Pakistan is undergoing shifts in its demographic structure.”
Dr. G. M. Arif highlighted that over 60 percent of the population in Pakistan is under the age of 30, emphasizing the importance of accurate data for informed decision-making and policy formulation.
The Chief Guest, Rafi Ullah Kakar, Member Social Sector and Devolution, Ministry of Planning Development & Special Initiatives, highlighted the importance of timely data availability and its transformation into a policy-friendly format accessible to decision-makers at all levels.
He emphasized that while census data is crucial for resource allocation, political considerations often overshadow data-driven planning. The usability of existing data and the political economy affecting resource allocation pose significant challenges to data-driven policy making.
He informed participants that the Planning Commission is developing a proposal for a geo-spatial database.
This database would offer PSLMS, Census, and other data down to the constituency level. He stressed that constituents hold accountability for their representatives, often basing their votes on constituency-level performance.
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