Conducting a pilot census is a practice undertaken for most censuses. It is a comprehensive test of all census procedures. During the pilot census, all stages of the census process are tested: mapping, interviewing, data capture, processing, and evaluation of census results.
The pilot provides important information on the adequacy of field organization, training programmes, the extent of the burden placed on interviewees, the data processing plans, the accuracy of maps, and other important aspects that are critical to the success of a census.
From 30 March to 10 April, 2013, Myanmar undertook a pilot census exercise to test procedures and prepare for the nationwide census in 2014. Prior to the pilot study, 120 teachers were recruited as enumerators and supervisors. They received five days of training in enumeration techniques. In addition, communities were informed about the pilot study. Exactly one year ahead of the actual census, enumerators, using carefully prepared census maps, visited thousands of households and interviewed residents in selected villages in 20 townships across the country. Those interviewed represented a cross-section of Myanmar's diverse geographic and ethnic make-up.
Officials from the Ministry of Immigration and Population closely monitored the process to test procedures for data collection and to observe the level of public engagement.
In each home, enumerators asked heads of households 41 questions on family members' sex and ages, education, occupation, religion, ethnicity, disabilities, births and deaths; in addition to questions on housing, lighting and water sources, among other. At the end of each day’s enumeration, interviewers reviewed their experience, checked their questionnaires and reported to officials.
Observing the process
UNFPA deployed a team of independent observers to help the Government to learn as much as possible from the pilot. The observers, trained in survey techniques, sat in on some of the census interviews. They watched to see whether questions were asked correctly and answers recorded accurately. They spoke with the respondents afterwards to see how well they understood the questions, and asked enumerators about the challenges they faced.
Observers also interviewed political party members, and community leaders and influencers in the townships visited, to hear their views on the census and how to encourage full public participation. UNFPA compiled the reports from the observers and shared them with the Department of Population, in the Ministry of Immigration and Population, to help improve enumeration for the 2014 census and community outreach activities.