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Phnom Penh, Cambodia: More than 100 programme planners and implementers from key line ministries, planning departments, capital, provincial, municipal and local authorities met for a workshop on urban reclassification organized by the Ministry of Planning.

This was an opportunity to use Census and other data for development and planning purposes. Population data is crucial for effective development planning, giving an overview of the real situation of people and the economic and social context.

Cambodia's population has increased from 11.4 in 1998 to 13.4 million in 2008. Over the same period there has been increased urbanization, driven by a number of factors including migration from rural areas. In the light of these changes, it is timely for planners to review how Cambodia classifies urban and rural areas.

Urban reclassification is an opportunity to reflect demographic, economic and social change in order to ensure appropriate responses in terms of policy decisions, social planning and investment. The method utilized for urban reclassification is based on population density exceeded 200 per square kilometer, percentage of people employed in agriculture below 50 per cent and total population of the commune exceeding 2,000 people.

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) emphasizes the importance of using population data for policy and development planning so encouraging government counterparts to effectively use data is a critical priority.

"A set of criteria can be applied to determine if a Commune or Sangkat has become urban. It's helpful for me as a planner to know how many children and women there are and to understand their status in the community and their social and economic needs in order to facilitate long-term development", said Yath Sokhann from the Provincial Planning Department of Rattanakiri province.