Home Insider Ethnic strife blurs Myanmar’s first census in 30 years

Ethnic strife blurs Myanmar’s first census in 30 years

YANGON, Aug 30 (Reuters) – Fol- lowing an incomplete count due to ethnic conflicts in parts of the country, Myanmar said that its first census in 30 years shows the population to be 51.4 million, some ten million less than expected. The provisional findings of the census, tak- en between March-April with support from the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), was re- leased by Minister of Immigration and Pop- ulation U Khin Yi.

The census was mired in controversy from the outset, as the government and UNFPA were criticized for basing the counting on 135 officially recognised ethnic groups, a classification that critics say is outdated and inaccurate.

Ethnic groups said their political represen- tation and claims to ethnicity would be com- promised if they were undercounted.

The estimated population included some 1.2 million people who were not counted in three areas affected by ethnic conflicts – northern Rakhine, and Kachin and Kayin states.

The government said that the estimate of 1.09 million uncounted people in northern Rakhine state was based on pre-census map- ping of households by immigration officers. Preliminary findings from the census also found a gender gap, with 26.6 million fe- males and 24.8 million males, and it also showed the population pressures building up in the country’s cities.

“For the first time in decades, the country will have data it needs to put roads, schools, health facilities and other essential infra- structure where people need them most,” Janet Jackson, the UNFPA representative in Myanmar said in a news release. More de- tailed data will be released in May 2015.