The International Organization for Migration is providing technical support to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency to help it carry out a census of Zimbabweans living abroad in conjunction with a national census scheduled for August 2012.
IOM spokesman Knowledge Mareyanadzo said the agency has given the statistical agency 10 computers, 7 laptops, two printers and a hard drive that will be used to gather and organize data on the size, distribution and demographic characteristics of Zimbabweans living in various countries.
Mareyanadzo said this aspect of the forthcoming 2012 census will help the government formulate appropriate policies to develop the potential of those in the diaspora.
The IOM was to conduct a workshop Friday with Zimstat to formulate ways of carrying out the census. Some 5 to 6 million Zimbabweans live outside the country - some left for political reasons, but most left home in search of economic opportunity.
Zimstats Director Moffat Nyoni told VOA Studio 7 reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that the donation will help greatly to account for the millions of Zimbabweans abroad.
Dumephi Mema, president of the Association of Zimbabweans Based Abroad, said the diaspora census could be properly conducted if it is carried out independently.
“There are fears that some politicians will tamper with the process for their own benefit if it is done by a government agency,” Mema said.
Statistician Khumbulani Tshuma said it will be an uphill task for Zimstats to account for all Zimbabweans living outside the country. “People are scattered all over the world and in all countries they do not stay in one place,” Tshuma said.
Preparations for the 2012 national census are underway: field teams for the mapping and listing of households have been deployed in most parts of the country.
It will be Zimbabwe's fourth census since independence in 1980. The last census in 2002 put the country’s population at 14 million - but did not count those outside Zimbabwe.
Correction: An earlier version of this article identified the International Organization for Migration as a United Nations agency. Established in 1951, the IOM is an inter-governmental organization with 133 member states but is not a UN agency.