Innovative features incorporated into the Republic of Palau’s 2015 national census of population, housing and agriculture will see Palau set a new standard for the Pacific region.
The census is currently under way, with some 140 census workers trained by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) visiting every town and village in Palau’s 85 hamlets, asking householders to fill in a detailed questionnaire.
“For the first time, the census includes sections on agriculture, fishing, household income and remittances,” the Minister of Finance, Elbuchel Sadang, said.
“Also for the first time, the nature of difficulties people face due to health and disability will be captured, and particular factors will be taken into consideration, such as human rights and gender issues,” Mr Sadang said.
SPC has been providing technical assistance to Palau’s Office of Planning and Statistics for the past 12 months to help the country prepare for its first full census in a decade.
This census also has more inclusive categories to measure secondary economic activity such as growing crops and vegetables for household consumption, raising livestock, and other types of work that, though unpaid, play a significant role in the well-being of Palauan families.
“Another first for Palau is the use of GIS mapping technologies that SPC has been assisting with,” the Director of SPC’s Statistics for Development Division, Gerald Haberkorn, said.
“Geospatial coordinates will be linked to information collected in the census about household construction, access to water and sanitation, and other details of infrastructure. This linkage will provide the information for Palau to prepare and respond to natural disasters and negative consequences of climate change,” Mr Haberkorn said.
The census will also enable Palau to calculate indicators of educational achievement that meet the latest UNESCO International Standard Classification of Education guidelines.
The new questions were developed by collaborators, including the United Nations, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). They are the result of a long-term effort to calculate measures that are comparable across countries and accurately portray the unique and varied methods of producing goods and services that may not have been reflected in previous enumerations.
SPC’s technical assistance to the government has also covered the budget, timetable, methodology and logistics; in development of the questionnaire, training manual and data processing systems; in field work monitoring; and in data editing, analysis and reporting.
Palau has been collecting census information since the 1940s so it is possible to measure trends in such things as language use, religion and family structure over several decades.
The information collected will be kept strictly confidential, conforming to the Palau Statistics Act, and results will be released only at aggregated levels in order to protect the sensitive nature of the information provided by respondents.
Ten years have gone by since the last full census, and there is an urgent need to get new and updated data so that the government of Palau can evaluate the effectiveness of their current policies, as well as develop new policies to ensure progress in achieving the country’s economic and social development objectives.
Funding for the census is provided by the United States Department of the Interior.