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First official population count in 12 years

By Giff Johnson MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, April 1, 2011) – The first national census in 12 years will start in the Marshall Islands on Monday, the beginning of several weeks of the population count that will cover every populated island in this widely dispersed nation of low-lying coral islands.

The government’s Economic Policy, Planning and Statistics Office, with the support of numerous government offices, has been conducting a series of trainings in preparation for this first census since 1999. Last week, census supervisors were trained. This week the 230 "enumerators," the workers who will go house-to-house to collect information, are being trained in Majuro and Ebeye.

A team of people funded by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in New Caledonia are working with Marshall Islands officials to train the census supervisors and enumerators. The census was originally planned for 2009, but was repeatedly delayed until the Marshall Islands could obtain the needed donor funding. The census is estimated to cost about $800,000.

Funding has been provided by the Australian and U.S. governments, and the Asian Development Bank.

Once the Majuro and Ebeye population count is completed, teams of census takers will head to the remote outer islands from Ebeye and Majuro by plane and boat. Many of the islands they will visit have fewer than 200 people and are accessible only by small boat or walking across reef flats at low tide.

The Marshall Islands has an estimated population of about 56,000.

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