You are here

Reliable population data are needed for countries to develop policies and programmes. Adding to the demand for data are emerging issues such as climate change, migration, disaster management including humanitarian response, and reliable electoral process for good governance.

Population and housing censuses remain the main source of population data in the absence of strong and well-functioning civil registration and vital statistics systems.

A population and housing census generates data for the number of people in a country as well as how people are distributed and their living conditions. This information is critical for development because without accurate data, governments are not able to make informed decisions about where to spend money on critical infrastructure such as roads, health clinics and schools. Without accurate data, people’s needs cannot be planned for or met.

For sustainable development to occur, there needs to be reliable data on population dynamics, youth, gender, and sexual and reproductive health. The information is needed for planning programmes, including preparing for and responding to humanitarian and emergency situations.

Yet, carrying out a population and housing census is an enormous and complex task. Apart from counting people, a census also measures critical issues such as fertility, deaths, housing conditions and people’s movement. The information gathered is used to predict demographic trends, as well as inequalities in wealth, education and employment.

UNFPA’s response

UNFPA works with institutions and assists governments with the conducting of national censuses during the regular round of censuses. The Fund provides the following strategic support:    

  • Resource mobilization and advocacy for political support to the census
  • Providing expertize and strengthening national and regional capacity for high quality implementation of the round of censuses
  • Strengthening partnerships and south-south cooperation
  • Quality assurance and census oversight

2018 Malawi Population and Housing Census

Malawi conducted the 2018 Population and Housing Census (PHC) from 3rd to 23rd September. The 2018 PHC was the sixth census to be conducted in Malawi. The first and most comprehensive census was conducted in Malawi in 1966; and others were conducted in 1977, 1987, 1998 and 2008.  

The 2018 PHC was the first digital census to be conducted in Malawi where a Computer Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) application was used instead of the traditional paper questionnaire. In 2018 PHC, data was collected and captured in the field using tablets; and was transmitted to National Statistical Office, NSO server electronically via internet. CAPI application proved to be very efficient and reduced time for data processing and cleaning as these processes were done at data capturing stage right in the field.

The preliminary results were released in January 2018 where comprehensive thematic reports are scheduled to be relased in April 2019