In March/April 2014 Myanmar will carry out its first population and housing census in more than 30 years. If carried out properly it may provide reliable data to be used not just by the government but also by civil society organizations and political parties, as a basis for negotiating the terms of the country’s future peace. However, interviews conducted in Kachin, Shan and Mon States, and among ethnic communities in Yangon, during 2013, have revealed widespread distrust of the government’s intentions. This is likely to create difficulties for the collection of data in minority regions. The census could also yield controversial results. The most disputed issue is ethnicity.
This policy brief, which aims to reach stakeholders in Myanmar as well as abroad, analyses the preparations for the census, discusses the risks and challenges, and provides recommendations for how to conduct the census in a conflict-sensitive way.