1.    Introduction: Purpose and Principles

In the past national population analyses have been prepared in order to provide the context and situational evidence about the most salient features of country situations with regard to specific issues such as sexual and reproductive health (SRH), gender, population and development.

Despite the important role that they play in the programming process, it is felt that they do not go into sufficient depth and do not take advantage of the potential, suggested by the evidence, with regard to the correlation between population phenomena, economic growth and sustainable development, as well as their links to poverty and inequalities. Nor is the human rights approach sufficiently comprehensive. Finally, to the extent that the relevant actors are not incorporated into a participatory process of political dialogue, the necessary national ownership has been lacking.

In the context of the reform process of the United Nations System and the changes in the architecture and the objectives of co-operation (Millennium Development Goals, Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness), development cooperation at the regional and country level call for efforts with an increasingly strategic focus, based on needs, priorities, and national development strategies, by means of extensive consultation processes.

In this respect, the process of the institutional regionalization of UNFPA, linked to the United Nations reform, goes beyond the search for a greater logistical and operational efficiency and can also be interpreted as a strategic opportunity for putting UNFPA’s mandate into practice, in conformity with the priorities of the regional and national agendas.

The existing guidelines assume that a sufficiently specific and detailed population and reproductive health analysis can be executed within the framework of the Common Country Assessment (CCA). In practice, this is not the ideal context for such an analysis, if it is to go into depth, even with the establishment of an inter-agency population and reproductive health working group, as suggested by the guidelines.

Rather, it is felt that the Population Situation Analysis should provide the basis of evidence that has already been collected and analyzed previously to the CCA (or any other inter-agency process that may replace it in the future).

This PSA, which serves as an analytical contribution from the population perspective, will constitute a key resource in the process of the Common Country Assessment/United Nations Development Assistance Framework (CCA/UNDAF), to better harmonize the support provided to countries by the United Nations System at large. Therefore, the present document should be seen as a tool for providing the contextual and situational evidence required in the process of evidence-based programme planning.

This document presents a detailed working guide for elaborating a Population Situation Analysis (PSA) that equips users with an instrument for assessment and advocacy. The PSA, as proposed here, is designed to take place within the context of an extensive process of dialogue with national actors, which implies working together in order to analyze and demonstrate the relevance of population issues in each country’s development strategy, and the practical implications for public policies.

But there is more to the PSA than that. The PSA should contribute to greater efficiency and strategic impact of technical assistance in the field of population and development for public policy formulation and implementation and especially for the elaboration of national development strategies based on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and placed within the Post 2015 agenda.

The PSA needs to be understood as a flexible conceptual framework, able to consider transitions, long term and new emerging trends, for example regarding the character of the national economy and employment. The legal framework in which individual behaviour is formed needs to be considered. The PSA itself should be considered an evolving process, culminating in the actual publication of the national PSA document, which serves as an evidence base.

The PSA process includes the following mechanisms and components:

a)    National participation;
b)    Participatory approach;
c)    Creating ownership;
d)    Need for a strong advocacy strategy;
e)    Tool for capacity building (through the application of the PSA itself).

The 2005/10 Report on joint programming: “emphasizes the importance that the Executive Board attaches to the use of joint programming as a tool for supporting the implementation of national development plans, including poverty reduction strategies where they exist, through a more concerted approach under the Common Country Assessment and United Nations Development Assistance framework, towards achieving the internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration.”