New program will investigate alleged undercounting of Africans in census

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African Research Network is a new program being developed by New American Community Services. Heather Buesseler is the coordinator of the new project. To know more about it, we asked Heather a few questions.

Tell us about your program.
New Americans Community Services is developing the African Research Network by uniting the skills and expertise of representatives from African communities, academic scholars, and government leaders in developing and carrying out African community-based participatory research.

Initially, the African Research Network will conduct the African Community Survey. The purpose of this survey is to determine the degree to which Africans in the Twin Cities were undercounted in the 2000 U.S. Census, and to assess the overall social, health, and economic well-being of Africans in this area.

The core goal of developing the African Research Network and implementing this survey is to engage African immigrant and refugee communities and place the lives and well-being in their own hands by building their capacity to assess their own needs and develop their own solutions.

Why is it needed?
For many reasons, it is suspected that the 2000 U.S. Census undercounted the number of Africans living in the Twin Cities. As a result, current population estimates range quite widely. Without accurate population estimates, government at the local, state, and national level and other social service funding organizations cannot make informed decisions about proportionate allocation of resources for African immigrants and refugees.

Furthermore, while many social services exist to assist African immigrants and refugees with their unique needs, no structure is in place for African communities to assess their own needs and develop their own solutions to secure their future. In order to improve the African immigrant/refugees’ integration into mainstream American culture, they need to be able to identify problems within their communities and develop their own solutions. By taking ownership of this process, they will be taking control of their futures and growth of their communities.

What is the time frame for your project?
The time frame for building and developing the African Research Network is ongoing. For the African Community Survey, the latest we intend to conduct it is August/September – earlier if things move quickly.

Who will use the data?
The data belongs to the community, and it will be their decision how it is used and shared.

What are you asking of the community?
We are asking the community to please participate fully in this survey. This will ensure the most accurate data possible, which will help shape future initiatives that will benefit them. Participating in the survey is completely confidential.

Would you like to add anything?
We look forward to the successful completion of the African Community Survey. We welcome questions and comments from the community about this initiative.

For more information, please contact Heather Buesseler or Sirad Osman at 651-287-5223.