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U.N. details Burmese census agreement

(Mizzima) – The United Nations will provide technical assistance and help mobilize financial support for the Burma's first census in 31 years, under an agreement signed on Monday in the nation’s capital.

Immigration and Population Minister Khin Yi will work with the U.N. in conducting a national census, the first for Burma in more than 30 years. Photo: MizzimaU.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Burma’s Vice President Sai Mauk Kham witnessed an exchange of letters signed by their representatives, setting out principles for conducting the proposed 2014 population and housing census in accordance with international standards.

Speaking at the signing, Ban said he was “very encouraged by the government’s strong commitment to the project,” and urged donors to support it.

The government is developing census plans with support from UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, including expertise on listing households, making enumeration maps, training enumerators, setting up information technology infrastructure, processing data, and analysing and disseminating the results.

Under-Secretary-General Vijay Nambiar, the secretary-general’s special adviser on Burma, presented a letter to Khin Yi, the minister of Immigration and Population, stating that the census “will provide important benchmark data for national development planning and assessment, including on the impact of the launched reforms”, and facilitate donor support of development priorities.

The letter stressed that a credible census would need to adhere to several key principles:

‐ Updated laws are needed to define responsibility, set the scope and timing, secure funding, and oblige enumerators to report accurately and the public to cooperate. Confidentiality must be guaranteed to ensure cooperation.

‐ To ensure the census is universal and “inclusive of all national races,” enumerators must have unimpeded access to all regions of the country.

‐ The census will need a well-structured administration that pools resources from various national institutions.

‐ The country should create a consultative body involving local and national government agencies, NGOs, community representatives and professional associations.

‐ A national information campaign will need to inform the public about the census objectives, content and methods, and their rights and obligations.

‐ Global standards for census taking, approved by the United Nations Statistical Commission, must be followed.

Khin Yi signed a letter confirming the government’s commitment to the principles.

Ban observed that training people to conduct the census will be challenging, given Burma's lack of recent experience in census taking. Another challenge will be to gain access to the whole country, he said. 

“I hope that current and future cease-fires will make this possible. The involvement of minorities and civil society will be crucial,” he said.

Vice-President Sai Mauk Kham said the 2014 census is a priority for Burma. He said the government “will cooperate closely with UNFPA to oversee the quality of the census so that the result will be accurate and up to international standards.”
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 02 May 2012 16:52 )  

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