Preparations Officially Begin for Delayed 2019 Population Census

Seventy-five government officials officially kicked off preparations for the 2019 population census on Tuesday when they fanned out across 24 provinces and the capital to divide up the country into 120-household blocks.

The census, originally planned for next year, has been postponed to 2019 due to budgetary constraints, said Hang Lina, the director-general of the National Institute of Statistics.

French Ambassador Eva Nguyen Binh and Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn shake hands upon their first official meeting at the Foreign Affairs Ministry on Thursday. Ms. Nguyen Binh was appointed in April. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“The government cannot support two major projects in the same year,” Ms. Lina said, referring to the national election next year. “So we decided to push it.”

The U.N. Population Fund, which acts as a facilitator and fund-seeking coordinator, will contribute $300,000 to support the census, Ms. Lina said. But despite two rounds of fundraising last year, the National Institute of Statistics was unable to secure any additional financing from partners or NGOs.

Originally, the 2018 census was estimated to cost $13 million, but with limited support from outside organizations, the budget for 2019’s census will be scaled back to $8 million, she said.

Due to the delay, data from the 2019 census will not be available for the 2018 national election, but this is not the first time a national election in Cambodia will take place without the benefit of fresh census data.

In 1998, data from the first complete census in 34 years was not analyzed in time for use in the election. At the time, activists worried that voter registration would be affected without clear data on how many people needed to be registered.

Now, with data from previous national censuses, it may not be as large a concern.

“To have the census would be ideal,” said Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections. “But I do not think it will have a big impact.”

The census is scheduled to begin on March 3, 2019.

sanders@cambodiadaily.com , rachna@cambodiadaily.com  

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