A project to conduct a census of population and housing next year was launched at an event held jointly by the Ministry of Immigration and Population and the United Nations Population Fund in Yangon on Friday, December 14.
The census, which will be the first in Myanmar in 30 years and is expected to cost nearly US$60 million, comes at a critical time for the country as it embarks on political and economic reform, said a press release issued by the ministry and the UNFPA to mark the event.
Speakers at the event included the Minister for Immigration and Population, U Khin Yi, who highlighted the government’s commitment to conducting the census in line with international standards.
They included ensuring confidentiality of personal data, full participation of all groups and individuals and adhering to UN standards on census taking, the press release quoted U Khin Yi as saying.
U Khin Yi acknowledged that there would be some challenges in undertaking the census.
“However, conducting the census is in the national interest,” he said. “We will have to overcome all the risks and difficulties with our strong political commitment.”
The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr Ashok Nigam, said the census would compile the biggest and only source of information on the size and distribution of Myanmar’s population.
“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,” Mr Nigam was quoted as saying.
The Department of Population has been preparing for the census since earlier this year through activities such as designing a questionnaire, developing a communication and publicity plan and setting up the information technology infrastructure, the press release said.
The UNFPA Representative, Mr Mohamed Abdel-Ahad, said the agency would provide technical support and help to ensure adherence to international standards in census taking and assist the government in resource mobilisation.
Mr Abdel-Ahad highlighted the importance of a mutual commitment by the government and international development partners for the success of the census.
Of the estimated cost of $58.5 million, the government and the UNFPA had committed $20 million, leaving a funding gap of $38.5 million, the press release quoted him as saying.