The United Nations biannual population projections are some of the most (if not the most) widely used numbers in demography. Researchers and policymakers alike rely on the figures to plan for present and future challenges. But few consider the story behind the statistics. Where does the data come from? The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) recently released a short documentary on conducting censuses in challenging environments, with a spotlight on Indonesia, Chad, the Palestinian Territories, Belarus, and Bolivia.
Each of the countries featured have a different set of challenges, but all have received funding and training from UNFPA to help conduct their censuses. While UNFPA does not directly conduct censuses in any country, it provides financial and technical support to help ensure figures are as accurate as possible. The documentary helps highlight both the difficulties of conducting these surveys in regions with few resources, and the necessity of doing so.