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The transition is over. Monday 10 of September, the Somali people took a giant step forward on the path to peace and prosperity, and ended the transitional period decisively by selecting their next President. Somalis have to focus on stabilization, reconciliation and building sustainable and accountable institutions of governance capable of providing services to their people. In order to make good decisions for the people they serve, access to good data is essential for policy makers. Data enables countries to measure progress, or lack of it.

Somalia had a long absence of any form of reliable data system that supports humanitarian, recovery or development actions since the collapse of the central government in 1991. The last population census was done in 1985/86, but no data was released. Only a few data were released from the earlier census conducted in 1975.

A settlement survey was done by United Nations Development Program back in 2005/06, but the Somali administration came out against it, because they felt that their population had been underestimated. Nevertheless, those data has been used as a framework for designing surveys until now. 

It would be ideal to conduct a comprehensive population census for Somalia. However, basic requirements for conducting an internationally credible census cannot be met at the current stage because of concerns of national capacity and regarding security and stability in the central and southern parts of Somalia. A population survey along with mapping and estimation procedures is the most practical option at this stage.

So the time has come to settle the status, once and for all. The Population Fund (UNFPA) is mandated by UN to support governments in using population data for policies and programs.  Together with the Somali governments and in partnership and collaboration with the UN agencies the time is right for conducting a Population Estimation Survey.

The primary objective of the survey is to obtain reliable population estimates of Somalia that are classified by geographic areas, regions, districts and water points, and by demographic and some socioeconomic characteristics including age, sex, educational status, employment and access to safe water and mobility status.

For all development partners, data is essential in demonstrating measurable results and accountability, particularly as it relates to funding and management.

The priority given by the national authorities for conducting this survey, formed the biggest motivation for the international organizations, represented by WFP, UNDP, UNICEF, UNHCR, FAO and WHO to adopt this initiative towards achieving greater coordination and integration between these organizations in support of national sustainable development efforts.