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Cablegate: International Observers Assess Sudan's Census Enumeration

VZCZCXRO9738
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0890/01 1671211
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 151211Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1054
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 000890

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/E WILLIAMSON, DRL
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL EAID KDEM SOCI SU
SUBJECT: INTERNATIONAL OBSERVERS ASSESS SUDAN'S CENSUS ENUMERATION
AS POSITIVE DESPITE MANY GAPS

REF: A. KHARTOUM 858
B. KHARTOUM 697
C. KHARTOUM 685
D. KHARTOUM 608

--------
SUMMARY
--------
1. (SBU) The Monitoring and Observation Committee's (MOC's)
international and domestic census enumeration observation team's
preliminary findings indicate that enumeration went "well" across
Sudan and the quality of data collected was "good." Although the
areas country-wide in which the nearly 60 observers were posted
suffered few problems during enumeration, the areas they were unable
to observe due to insecurity paint a much different picture. Some
residents in Darfur, particularly IDPs and rebels, and Southern
Kordofan resisted the census. Others went uncounted simply due to
enumerators' inability to access their areas. Access to some areas
in the South also was difficult and insecurity was a problem in
Upper Nile and Northern and Western Bahr el Ghazal. These regions
suffered from incomplete or no data, with a resulting undercount.
In addition, top SPLM officials complain that the census was not
transparent and are withholding judgment on the quality and
completeness of enumeration until official results are released (ref
A). End summary.

-------------------------------------------
LACK OF NATION-WIDE COVERAGE BIASED FINDINGS
-------------------------------------------
2. (U) On 9 June, the DFID-funded team of census experts that
planned the international and domestic mission to monitor the
conduct of census enumeration presented its preliminary findings,
based on 25 state and nine regional reports compiled by a 60-member
international and domestic observation team that deployed across
Sudan during the April 22 - 6 May census enumeration period. While
census monitors were present in all states, they did not travel to
enumeration areas (EAs) that the UN deemed as insecure or unsafe.
Therefore, their findings do not account for the conduct of
enumeration in such sensitive and critical areas as large parts of
Darfur, parts of Southern Kordofan, and regions of Upper Nile state
and Northern and Western Bahr El Ghazal states. According to the
experts, these gaps in data collection lead to "slightly biased"
findings on the nature of nation-wide census conduct.

-----------------------------------------
ENUMERATION PROCESS, DATA QUALITY "GOOD"
-----------------------------------------
3. (U) Each observer looked at ten EAs - six rural and four urban -
in their assigned state. In the areas they monitored, observers
witnessed 100 percent enumeration coverage. Overall, they judged
enumeration went well and that the quality of data was captured is
"good." EA maps were produced using satellite imagery and GPS
technology. According to monitors, population movements just prior
to the census, such as IDPs and refugees returns to southern Sudan,
created larger EAs and necessitated creation of new ones at the time
of enumeration.

4. (U) Observers reported that insecurity was a major cause of
disruption to census enumeration and monitoring in parts of Darfur,
Southern Kordofan, Greater Upper Nile, Northern and Western Bahr el
Ghazal, and the Eastern region. The team speculates that insecurity
could have left these areas undercounted (ref B).

---------------------------
CENSUS ADVOCACY INADEQUATE
---------------------------
5. (U) Monitors rated advocacy for the census as insufficient. They
noted that many Sudanese were unclear about the census date, due to
the last-minute postponement of the census by one-week.
Additionally, many believed that the enumeration exercise would last
only one day, rather than two weeks. Regardless of the weak
information campaign and some confusion over timing, observers found
the population was "generally positive" towards the enumeration
exercise.

------------------------------------
HUGE VARIATION IN CENSUS FACILITIES
------------------------------------
6. (U) Observers noted great variation among state and county census
offices across the country. Overall, the team deemed census
facilities "generally inadequate" and storage facilities for census
material "grossly inadequate." Police and military support to
protect census and storage facilities was deemed "satisfactory."

----------------------------------------
DEMOGRAPHICS AND QUALITY OF ENUMERATORS
----------------------------------------

KHARTOUM 00000890 002 OF 003


7. (U) The Central Bureau of Statistics' (CBS) and the Southern
Sudan Census Commission's (SSCCSE) recruitment of enumerators was
found to be "generally fair and consistent." Observers judged
enumerators and their supervisors as competent and "very well
trained." Sixty-one percent of enumerators were male, 39 percent
female. Their mean age was 30 years. The majority of enumerators
were teachers (60 percent) and students (14 percent).

------------------------------------
AMELIORATION OF FORM SHORTAGE ISSUE
------------------------------------
8. (U) At the state and local level in southern Sudan,
transportation of material to certain EAs proved challenging.
Observers noted that, except in some parts of Upper Nile state and
Northern and Western Bahr El Ghazal states, materials generally
arrived in time for the start of enumeration, despite the South's
complicated terrain, weather, and logistics. They also noted that
prompt action was taken to secure more questionnaires when there
were shortages.

---------------------------------------
MOC CHAIRMAN'S REACTION TO THE REPORT
---------------------------------------
9. (SBU) MOC Chairman Abdelbagi Gailani stated that the team's
findings were "scientific" and "well-convincing,", however he
indicated that there will be a "modification here and there" to the
final report. He congratulated the international experts for their
work. He also announced that the MOC mahaliya-level monitors (ref
C) will write a separate report of their observations of the
enumeration phase.

----------------------------------
POST-ENUMERATION PHASE MONITORING
----------------------------------
10. (SBU) In a positive step, the MOC has agreed to allow four
observers - two international and two domestic - to monitor data
processing at the data processing centers in Khartoum and Rumbek.
The MOC has written up a draft concept paper on post-enumeration
phase monitoring and is allowing international donors to provide
input. The USG, UNFPA, and the World Bank have actively provided
feedback on the concept paper which should be completed in the
coming weeks. According to the UNFPA Chief Technical Rep for the
census Bob Kandeh, states still are transporting completed
questionnaires to the two data processing centers. Data scanning is
unlikely to begin before mid-July. In other encouraging news, CBS
Director and Census Controller Dr. Yasin Abdeen set up a five-man
committee to supervise data processing at the CBS and the SSCCSE as
a single national project. SSCCSE Chairman Isaiah Chol has accepted
Abdeen's request that Chol chair the national committee. This type
of cooperation between the CBS and the SSCCSE is unprecedented and
represents progress in initiating a unified approach to arriving at
final nation-wide census results.

--------
COMMENT
--------
11. (SBU) Although generally positive, the donor-funded
international and national census enumeration monitoring team's
findings do not tell the full story. The monitors' inability to
observe enumeration and data collection in sensitive and critical
areas of Darfur, Southern Kordofan and the South leaves untold a
story of undercounts, resistance to census participation, and the
likelihood that the South will reject final census results even with
"good" data quality (ref C). Nonetheless, the MOC Chairman seemed
pleased with the team's preliminary findings. Although there had
been wrangling over exactly who would write the final
census-enumeration report, the MOC is unlikely to change much of the
team's language, given the report's positive overall tone (ref D).


12. (SBU) COMMENT CONTINUED. After months of pushing, the U.S., UK,
EC, and the World Bank finally were victorious in getting the MOC to
allow a team of international and national monitors observe the data
input, processing, editing and merging phases. In fact, although
donors have been skeptical (and rightfully so) of the NCP-run MOC
from the start, the body worked with the international community
more amicably and closely, albeit sometimes grudgingly, as time went
on. The UN, the World Bank and the U.S. provided significant expert
feedback to the MOC's concept paper for post-enumeration monitoring,
which we hope will lead to recruiting of qualified data processors
to act as monitors during the critical data input, editing, and
analysis phases, when manipulation could occur. Although the MOC
has yet to draft a budget for the post-enumeration monitoring
mission, it is likely that DFID will fund the effort (as we have
hoped it would and worked to persuade it), given the UK's history of
building confidence in and supporting the MOC and its mission.


KHARTOUM 00000890 003 OF 003


FERNANDEZ

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