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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Lao Statistics Bureau, International Partners Plan for Landmark 2025 Census

This Week

The Lao government is gearing up for the country’s first-ever digital Population and Housing Census in March 2025. This landmark census will play a crucial role in national development planning and the monitoring of international development programs, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).

As part of the preparations, the Lao government, under the leadership of the Lao Statistics Bureau (LSB) and with the support of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), organized two partnership meetings aimed at strengthening the role of civil society, international Non-Governmental Organizations, and the private sector. The Australian Chamber of Commerce joined hands with other stakeholders to ensure an inclusive and effective engagement in the census.

A population and housing census is an enumeration of the total population of a country, providing data on the number of people, their spatial distribution, age, sex, living conditions, and key socioeconomic characteristics. This data is critical for national development planning, infrastructure distribution, social welfare programs, and market analysis. 

For many countries, including Laos, the census remains the primary source of data on population size and distribution, and it is essential for tracking and monitoring international development programs such as the SDGs. Notably, 107 of the 247 SDG indicators require population data for measurement and monitoring.

The partnership meetings, which gathered 30 representatives from civil society and 60 from the private sector, provided a platform to share updates on the progress of the 5th Population and Housing Census preparations. Attendees brainstormed innovative contributions to support the LSB and the national census management team, including the publicity strategy, and strengthened coordination and partnership between all stakeholders and the national census office to ensure inclusive and effective engagement.

The upcoming census, set to take place in March 2025, is the first digital census in Laos. It aims to collect data from approximately 1.4 million households across 18 provinces within a three to four-week period, utilizing Computer-Assisted Personal Interviews (CAPI) and Geographic Information System (GIS) technologies. An estimated 13,100 enumerators will be deployed to undertake this massive task.

The Lao government reaffirmed its commitment to the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action and the National Population and Development Policy (NPDP 2019-2030) during the first-ever National Conference on Population and Development (NCPD) in October 2023. Key recommendations from the NCPD include a “Call for Action” by Kikeo Khaikhamphithoune, the Deputy Prime Minister of Laos, encouraging all stakeholders to prioritize the 2025 population and housing census to inform the formulation of the 10th National Socio-Economic Development Plan for 2026-2030.

The first digital census in Laos is expected to significantly advance the government’s digitization agenda, including the establishment of a digital data governance system and the promotion of innovation in digitization. Census data is vital not only for public sector planning but also for civil society organizations and the private sector. Businesses can use census data for strategic planning, market research, industry benchmarks, location decisions, workforce planning, and market expansion opportunities. Civil society organizations can utilize census data for planning grassroots activities, access to health facilities, water and sanitation, emergency responses, and economic development projects.

Follow-up meetings and discussions will continue to ensure concrete support and involvement from all sectors alongside the LSB for this national milestone.

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