By Karine Kalantarian
Final preparations are underway for a crucial census of Armenia’s population scheduled for October 9-19. A special government commission has already divided the country into 11,265 “clusters” and assigned its field workers to each of them, officials said on Monday.
The census, repeatedly postponed over the past several years for lack of government funding, is estimated to cost around $2 million. Its holding was officially confirmed in March when Western donor states and organizations pledged to contribute 80 percent of the sum. An agreement on donor funding was signed by the Armenian government, the World Bank, the British Department for International Development, UN agencies and the US Agency for International Development.
The donors will also provide technical assistance, training and computer equipment needed to effectively manage the effort. The US Bureau of the Census, in particular, will help the Armenian National Statistical Department (ANSD) develop methodologies for gathering, analyzing and managing census data.
A senior official from the ANSD, Karine Kuyumjian, told RFE/RL that preliminary figures showing the size of the country’s population, which has decreased considerably over the past decade, will be available in November. She said final results of the census also containing other relevant data will be released in 2003. Kuyumjian added that their margin of error will not exceed the internationally accepted five percent and that tight oversight mechanisms will be in place to prevent major inaccuracies.
Hundreds of thousands of people have left Armenia since the 1992 in the face of wrenching economic conditions. The absence of reliable official data has led to differing estimates of the number of people living in Armenia. The country’s population stood at 3.8 million in 1990.