YANGON, Myanmar — The Ministry of Immigration and Population (MOIP) jointly with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) launched the 2014 Population and Housing Census Project Document- a roadmap for the preparation and implementation of census operations across the country.
The event was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Immigration and Population, the United Nations agencies, the diplomatic community and donors.
U Khin Yi, the Union Minister for the Ministry of Immigration and Population gave the opening statement, and highlighted the strong commitment of the Government of Myanmar to conducting the census in line with international standards by ensuring confidentiality of personal data, full participation of all groups and individuals in the country and adherence to UN Global Standards on Census Taking.
The Minister stated that there are challenges ahead that can only be overcome with the mutual commitment of the government and the international development partners: “Though we have developed a clear road map to conduct the census, there is a need for adequate and timely resources to operationalize the road map. We need the support of development partners, civil society, public and private sector as well as international organizations.”
The census comes at a critical time for Myanmar, as the country embarks on political and economic reform. Mr. Ashok Nigam, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator noted that the census represents the biggest and the only source of information on the size and distribution of the population in the country.
He said, “the census helps us give a voice to the country’s remarkable ethnic, linguistic, and religious diversity, and plan and deliver services, in particular to the poorest and most vulnerable.”
The preparation of the census has been underway since 2012, and the Department of Population has been leading efforts in the areas of making Enumeration Area Maps, designing of census questionnaire, developing communication and publicity plan, and setting up information technology infrastructure.
“The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), based on its long-standing experience, has been tasked to provide technical support, establish monitoring, oversight and quality control mechanisms to ensure adherence to international standards in census taking, and assist the Government in resource mobilization.” said Mr. Mohamed Abdel-Ahad, UNFPA Representative.
He also underscored the importance of mutual commitment of the government and the international development partners, for the success of the census. He highlighted that the estimated cost of the census is $58.5million, of which the Government and UNFPA have committed $20million, leaving a funding gap of $38.5million.
The discussions that followed brought up some concerns related to the capacity of the government to undertake such a complex exercise, as the last census took place only 30 years ago. Nonetheless, Dr. Mary Callahan, Associate Professor at University of Washington, Seattle, presented preliminary findings from a study on risk assessment and mitigation plan for the census. The study, provided evidence of the outstanding motivation on the part of the Ministry, combined with a historical openness to collaborate with all stakeholders and the international community. As the Minister stated: “I am sure that there will be some challenges due to lack of experience and public awareness, left behind technology, and lack of financial resources. However, conducting census is our own national interest. We will have to overcome all the risks and difficulties with our strong political commitment.”
The MOIP and UNFPA officials gave a press briefing following the event for the local media.