Laos Gears Up for First Digital Census in 2025

(Photo: UNFPA Lao)

The Lao government and international organizations are preparing for the 5th Population and Housing Census (PHC) in 2025, set to be the first digital census in Laos.

Since 1985, Laos has conducted the Population and Housing Census (PHC) every decade. 

According to the data from the previous census in 2015, Laos had a population of close to 6.5 million.

As the 5th PHC aims to gather high-quality data essential for development planning, the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) of Laos, in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), held a consultation meeting on 7 February. 

The meeting was aimed at mobilizing support and resources for the timely execution of the 5th PHC Census at the upcoming Round Table Implementation Meeting, scheduled on 13 February.

Minister of Planning and Investment, Khamjane Vongphosy, emphasized the importance of securing adequate funding for the census, highlighting a financial shortfall of more than USD 7 million, representing 30 percent of the total budget. 

Khamjane said that contributions from the government and various donors, including the World Bank, UNFPA, USAID, Australia, and China, are crucial to bridging this gap.

Bakhtiyor Kadyrov, UNFPA Representative, underscored the urgency of deploying resources and ensuring citizen awareness leading up to the census in March 2025, emphasizing the collaborative effort required from development partners to guarantee the census’s success and highlighting its transformative potential for Laos’ future.

The census holds significance as more than just a statistical exercise, serving as a cornerstone for monitoring Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and national development targets, as well as informing the 10th National Socio-Economic Development Plan. 

As Laos aims for middle-income status by 2026, robust data becomes imperative for evidence-based decision-making.

Additionally, following suggestions from the National Conference on Population and Development in October 2023, Deputy Prime Minister Kikeo Khaikhamphithoune also called on stakeholders to focus on improving population data management systems for upcoming socio-economic development plans.

The consultation meeting, attended by government officials, embassies, development partners, and the private sector, also addressed the importance of coordinated financing and resource allocation for data generation. 

The 5th census plans to cover approximately 1.4 million households across 18 provinces within three weeks, leveraging handheld devices like smartphones or tablets, Computer Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) where interviewers use electronic devices for face-to-face data collection, and Geographic Information System (GIS) technologies for storing, visualizing, analyzing, and interpreting geographic data.

With an estimated 13,150 enumerators slated for fieldwork, the meeting concluded with fruitful discussions on identifying challenges, innovative financing solutions, and agreed-upon next steps to ensure the successful implementation of the 2025 Census in Laos.

Source: UNFPA and Government sources