The Directorate of Social Statistics and Census of Oman organized the Preparatory Meeting for Oman 2010 Census on 25 to 28 May 2008. The objectives of the meeting were to review the past experiences and lessons learned from the previous censuses in the Sultanate of Oman, and in other more statistically advanced countries; to identify suitable new technologies to be applied for the 2010 Population and Housing Census in the Sultanate of Oman.
The 2010 Population and Housing Census in the Sultanate of Oman will follow international agreed concepts, definitions, and methodologies, strive for complete coverage and accuracy, and disseminate the results in the shortest possible time. It will adopt the latest suitable technologies in all stages of census activities.
In order to achieve these objectives and to broaden the knowledge and awareness of the national census staff, experts from Australia, South Africa, the United States of America (USA), United Nations Commission for Europe (UNECE), the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) and several international consultants participated in the deliberations interactively with the national and regional (GCC States) experts over a period of four days. These deliberations were spread over 12 sessions and led to the following conclusions:
- There is adequate national expertise in census taking within the Ministry of National Economy. Their active participation at the meeting exposed them to current best practices in overall census operations as well as the latest revisions of the international recommendations recently adopted by the United Nations Statistical Commission.
- Furthermore, their exposure to current experiences in the application of new technologies and techniques, including the benefits and the risks, being used in statistically advanced countries strengthened their understanding in adopting emerging technologies.
- It was recognized that adopting new technologies do not always achieve the desired goals. New technologies should be carefully chosen, tested and proven to be effective before relying on them as a major component in census operations.
- Enumeration Areas and locality demarcations are important to meet the census objective of complete coverage, and therefore they should be agreed before the census is conducted.
- The use of outsourcing requires a high level of in-house capability needed to specify requirements, evaluate and monitor performance, and manage deliverable of potential contractors.
- The census questionnaires should not be unduly burdensome. A possible approach to reduce the burden on the respondents could consist in including in the census questionnaire only the most important characteristics, to be collected through easy-to-understand simple questions. In this regard the United Nations Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses and other related documents may provide useful guidance. Information on more detailed characteristics, including questions aimed at relevant sub groups of the population, could be collected in post-censal and inter-censal surveys.
- As part of the preparatory activities detailed training programs, at all levels, should be prepared along with the training materials and adequate resources.
- A quality census requires careful planning at each step of census processes. This includes identifying the time needed as well as the human and material resources required. The operationalization of the plan requires close monitoring to ensure that the project is being implemented according to the planned schedule.
- To ensure the proper interpretation of data, it is essential that detailed metadata be provided. A comprehensive administrative report about the census processes is also essential, both for institutional memory and for better utilization of data and to improve future censuses.
- Independent evaluation of census coverage and content of census data and its quality should be an essential part of the census program. The decision to conduct a post enumeration survey (PES) should be carefully reviewed in the light of available resources, both human and monetary, keeping in mind that this does not necessary imply that the census count will be adjusted.
- A strategy for dissemination of data should be an integral part of the census program and should be based on consultations with the stakeholders.
- In-depth analysis, though not solely the responsibility of the Ministry of National Economy, should be part of the census program and should be coordinated by Census Office.
- A Strategy for census publicity should closely involve media in mobilizing the civil society for census program awareness.
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