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Armenia Seeks Donors For Next Census

Who will pay to count them?
Who will pay to count them?
YEREVAN -- Armenian officials say they will need foreign money in order to fund the next census as required by law, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Stepan Mnatsakanian, head of the National Statistical Service (NSS), told RFE/RL this week that the biggest hurdle to holding elections by 2011 will be "financing."

He said "under the best-case scenario, there could be more certainty and first-donor assistance on this issue by the end of December."

Mnatsakanian said Armenia's second census since independence will require as many as 16,000 workers and cost a total of 2.5 billion drams ($6.5 million).

He said the government can provide only one-fifth of the sum, adding that it hopes to get the rest from the United Nations, the World Bank, and other foreign sources.

Donors provided 80 percent of the $2 million that was spent on the first post-Soviet survey of Armenia's population, which was conducted in October 2001.

According to it, the country numbered approximately 3.2 million residents, a substantial decrease from the late Soviet era that resulted from the poverty-driven, mass outmigration of the early 1990s.

Mnatsakanian said the next census will be important not only for updating population numbers but also taking account of what he described as "increased internal migration and social mobility."

He claimed that robust economic growth in the past decade fueled a population flow from rural areas to Yerevan and other urban centers.