Note: The International Technical Advisory Board (ITAB) was formed in January 2013. ITAB’s role in the 2014 Population and Housing Census in Myanmar is to provide advice to the Government on proposed census processes and activities. In addition, they ensure that the census follows international guidelines and good practice. The views and opinions expressed by ITAB do not reflect the official policy or position of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
NAY PYI DAW, Myanmar — An advisory group of census experts from around the world met between the 23 to 24 July 2014, the fourth in-country meeting of the International Technical Advisory Board (ITAB)
Members of the ITAB, representatives from the Ministry for Immigration and Population, the Department of Population, donors and UNFPA met to discuss a range of technical, logistical and administrative issues over a two-day period. There was a review of the implementation of the census data collection process, the census observation report and discussions on the next steps in data analysis, data processing, the release of provisional results, and the preparation of the main results and the plan for their dissemination. The ITAB members also visited the data processing centre at the Census Office. In addition, members discussed possible strategies to respond to non enumerated populations in Rakhine, Kachin and some areas of Kayin States.
The ITAB members were given a brief overview of the findings from the data collection observation mission. The observation mission was one of the largest ever established for a census; being comprised of 23 international and 24 national experts. The teams were dispatched across every State and Region during the data collection process, with standardised observation methodology to report on. The team observed 2,193 enumeration interviews across the country over the 10-day census count. The ITAB members commended the foresight of the Union Minister of Immigration and Population, HE U Khin Yi, for welcoming the observation mission, as part of efforts to foster transparency around data collection and gather lessons learned for future censuses.
Overall, the Board considered the status of data collection and data processing satisfactory and largely successful. Currently, all the questionnaires have been returned from the field. Preparation of the provisional results is progressing according to the proposed timeline. Provisional results will provide the total population of Myanmar, by male and female, disaggregated by state, district, and township and will be released at the end of August 2014, as planned.
The bulk of the main census data will be announced in the first quarter of 2015. The remaining data including ethnicity, occupation and industry, will be available at a later date as it takes more time to process and analyse.
Members recognised that there were some concentrated areas in the country that were not enumerated. These refer to enumeration areas in Northern Rakhine, as well as some areas of Kayin and Kachin State. The Board considered alternative options for the estimation of populations in non-enumerated areas. The Board advised that population estimates could be developed based on the pre-enumeration mapping. These would provide an estimated total population for Myanmar. The ITAB also recommended developing other options for surveying the areas that were not enumerated to collect information on the socio-economic profile of specific groups.
The ITAB stressed the need to continue consultations at both national and local levels, with communities and civil society, to inform potential data users on what the census information can be used for, as well as its limitations. This will also have the added benefit of understanding the exact data users are interested in receiving.
The ITAB underlined the importance of having strategies in place for the release of sensitive data, which should take into consideration the country’s social and political reform process. The ITAB urged the Government to address, with full commitment and transparency, the issue of non-enumerated areas.
During a Q&A session with national journalists, an ITAB member stressed there are international recommendations on how to ask respondents about their ethnic origin. However, it is up to each individual country on how to classify ethnicity, there are no international guidelines.
The ITAB is committed to advising on all future stages of the census. The next meeting is scheduled for early 2015 but any issues that arise in the intervening period will be addressed by the ITAB members.