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Nay Pyi Taw

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 advise the government to follow 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).

On behalf of the International Technical Advisory Board (ITAB) for the 2014 Population and Housing Census of Myanmar, we would like to thank you all for attending this press briefing. This is the 8th and final in-country meeting with the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population and UNFPA. ITAB members are experts in demography, statistics and censuses and it is the role of ITAB to provide technical advice to the Government to promote compliance with international census standards based on experiences of census-taking in other countries. During this last meeting the ITAB looked at publications, analytical reports and discussed pending issues, including the publication and dissemination of remaining data and their use.

Since the previous ITAB meeting, the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population has completed the release of 13 Thematic Reports, a Census Atlas of Myanmar and 409 dedicated Township Reports. These reports are being made publically accessible on the website of the Department of Population (DoP) and UNFPA.

The ITAB considers the Census Thematic Reports to be of high quality, technically sound and policy relevant. ITAB encourages the Government to promote and facilitate the use of these reports by building analytical capacity in ministries, local governments and other type of users such as CSOs.

The ITAB compliments DoP on producing and disseminating Township Reports and thereby facilitating availability and accessibility of Census data for local stakeholders including civil society, local administrators, the private sector and ethnic representatives.  Township workshops have created interest among an expanding group of Census data users. This has helped to generate public dialogue among different stakeholders. To ensure continued demand for, and interest in, data use, as well as to effectively address misconceptions, ITAB recommends sustained capacity building efforts at all levels, especially in townships. The ITAB is pleased that DoP is developing an additional web based dissemination platform for easy and user friendly access to the Census data.

The ITAB takes note that ethnicity data have not yet been released. The ITAB recommends that Government takes clear leadership in parallel to the political-and peace process and ensures continuous communication with ethnic groups to foster coherence and understanding of the process.

The ITAB recognizes that a number of ethnic groups are undertaking consultations to reach a consensus on their ethnic listings. These have strengthened in engagement and interest locally. The ITAB recommends communicating and outlining a systematic clear and transparent mechanism for coordinating consultations, receiving and processing submissions, providing feedback and making decisions towards a release of ethnicity data. In the meantime, the ITAB advises Government to consider the option of releasing ethnicity data without any form of classification.

Looking back over the last five years, the ITAB expresses satisfaction with the way the Census was conducted and the results achieved. The Myanmar 2014 Housing and Population Census was successfully conducted, conforming overall to international standards, despite having encountered difficulties due to the political context. The ITAB considers these data to be valid and a useful resource for policy makers, private and public sectors, and CSOs. The Myanmar Census also compares well internationally. This is supported by the findings of the Census data quality evaluation report produced by independent experts.

The ITAB recognizes that the success of the Census would not have been possible without the dedication and commitment of the Department of Population and the financial and technical support of the international community.

Looking ahead, the ITAB considers that it is important for Government to leverage the investments made in capacity building and data infrastructure. The Government should sustain census-related activities and encourage the use of data for the advancement of Myanmar and the benefit of all the peoples in the country.