20 July 2011

UN body rejigs Bangladesh head count
Bangladesh News 24 - Bangladesh

The United Nations Population Division has revised its head count figure for Bangladesh that drew flak from several quarters in 2010. To one's surprise, the UN has also revised drastically the mid-century (2050) population projection for Bangladesh, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The UNFPA on October 21, 2010 in its 'State of the World Population 2010' said that 'the population of Bangladesh is now 164.4 million, with an annual growth rate of 1.4 percent'. The government, however, rejected the numbers outright, as it was 15 million more than the count of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) that conducts census every 10 years. Finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith binned the report saying it was 'unauthoised meddling'. "They (UNFPA) have no such right," he said after the report was released. Finally, on May 3, 2011, the UN Population Division revised Bangladesh's population close to 149 million.Prior to 2004, the UN Population Division estimated that Bangladesh's population would reach 218 million in 2050, and in 2004, they said it would be 243 million. In 2006, they jumped up to 256 million and then dropped the figure in 2008 when they said Bangladesh's population would be 222.5 million, close to other estimates like the one of US Population Reference Bureau. Now they say in 2050, Bangladesh's population would be 194 million and 'that is the peak – thereafter population declines'. bdnews24.com tried drawing planning minister's attention to the issue at the release of the preliminary results of the 5th Population and Housing Census 2011, but he chose not to react.Later prime minister's advisor Mashiur Rahman in his speech quipped, "In the world of knowledge, if we think we are the only wise people, then knowledge will not expand." "We should also accept those, who cultivate knowledge," he added referring to a query bdnews24.com raised before the planning minister whether organisations other than the government's BBS had the mandate to generate population data. "It's ridiculous," said Ahmed-al Sabir, a population researcher and consultant of USA-based Measure Evaluation."It only creates confusion," he said, adding that BBS should remove such confusions in a pro-active manner. However, UNFPA assistant representative Noor Mohammad told bdnews24.com that they do not generate any population data. "We bring out a world population report every year using data from Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat." "They generate the counts taking different countries' statistics," he said, adding that population projections can be different due to different methods of calculation."As census is conducted every 10 years, the UN Population Division generates those data during the interim periods," he said, adding all UN organisations use those data. The preliminary results of the 5th Population and Housing Census 2011 showed Bangladesh's population hitting 142.319 million on March 15. (17 July 2011)

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