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With the Myanmar census only a few months away, UNFPA joined the Ministry of Immigration and Population in town hall awareness raising events across Northern Shan State for the public as well as community officials and leaders.

Over four days from 10-14 October 2013, UNFPA’s Myanmar Representative, Ms. Janet Jackson, together with H.E. U Khin Yi, Minister of Immigration and Population, went to townships of Lashio, Muse and Loikaing to raise awareness and to discuss the preparations involved in the 2014 population count with regional and local officials and communities. 

Issues raised during the town hall meetings and other side meetings with local high level officials included a full explanation of what a census is and why it is important for Myanmar, the history of population counts in the country, and worldwide, and the technical and practical aspects of how a census is conducted. Specific details relating to the enactment of Myanmar’s new census law, how the data collected will be used, as well as the lessons learned from the March/April 2013 census pilot test were also discussed. 

Ms. Jackson said the UNFPA was giving support to the census preparations and that the census should be seen as “a powerful investment and potential for the future development of Myanmar.” She explained that the census was a statistical exercise that is independent of the household listing and the national ID card registration. She stressed that “all collected individual data will be strictly confidential and that the persons will be protected by law.” 

Ms. Jackson stated that community participation should be “encouraged in order to build trust in the exercise and to ensure a successful, accurate and reliable census count.” The census listing should include all persons who slept the night of 29th March in the dwelling when it is going to be enumerated. It also includes a question on family members who are abroad. In all there are 44 questions. 

In Lashio Township, approximately 710 participants from the state government and departments, state parliamentarians, institutions, supporting groups, head masters of schools as well as religious leaders, NGOs and INGOs attended the talks. In Muse township 221 attended and in Loikaing 781 participants showed up to partake in the discussions. 

The 2014 census will be the first in over 30 years that a count of the Myanmar population takes place in the Southeast Asian nation. The last census took place in 1983. The census enumeration is going to take place from 29thMarch to 10 April, 2014.