For the 2020 Census, the Government of Iraq has decided to adopt the electronic Census methodology. However, the Government has limited experience in this field. At the suggestion of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the government resorted to South-South cooperation, soliciting expertise from Jordan and Egypt who have conducted their e-Census in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Jordan and Egypt share common settings and have successfully conducted their most recent census using e-technology. Moreover, the governance structures in Iraq need further technical support on issues of procurement, human resources, ICT and GIS.
In July 2020, The Prime Minister of Iraq announced the postponement of the 2020 Census until the third quarter of 2021. Nevertheless, the preparation for the Census as planned with partners and relevant ministries continued.
Towards a Solution
To support the needs of the country, the UNFPA Iraq country office organized a series of activities to engage Census authorities. Study tours were set up for Iraq officials who visited Egypt and Jordan for onsite learning and discussions with related authorities for transfer of knowledge and skills on management, governance structures, procurement, and ICT. Several important technical documents were shared with relevant people. A number of expert group meetings in Cairo and Amman were also organized specifically one with the country office in consultation with ASRO to deliberate and learn from multiple challenges and solutions.
Training and attachments of experts facilitated exchange of experts for close on-job learning. Furthermore, the CO outsourced some expertise on ICT by engaging an international company well experienced on Census ICT who conducted a technical mission to Iraq and had series of technical discussions and provided a comprehensive report on enhancing the capacity of Iraqi CSO on information technology and GIS including procurement of ICT equipment and software as well as human resources. In these meetings and exchanges, options for speeding up the use of latest technology was also addressed, including outsourcing for technical support and recruitment of international human resources. The CO also facilitated development of communication strategy to support the Census through a technical workshop held in Jordan.
Below is an excerpt from a national blog the affirms the Iraqi government’s commitment to the census in line with the recommendations of the United Nations; it is also aimed at consolidating the developmental goals of the census, ensure its correct steps, in accordance with the program of the Higher Census Commission 2019 - 2021 , and to address the challenges that may face the census processes.
- Obtaining updated, comprehensive, and high-accuracy data on all individuals at a specific time as well as different characteristics of buildings, housing and families.
- The general population census process is a cornerstone of information gathering, and it is the only opportunity for the state to reach out to the country’s population easily and responsively;
- The Census is acknowledged as an important means for providing evidence-based government services according to the size of the population and the precise determination of the deficits in housing;
- Acknowledge the importance of deciding on the legislations, laws or decisions required by the general population census, in a timely and appropriate manner and affirming a conducive work environment responding to its developments and needs;
- Commitment of the ministries and relevant bodies to provide human, material and technical resources on telecommunications and data transfer services, the geographic information system, and information technology to ensure an efficient and effective implementation of the electronic enumeration process;
- Emphasize the support to the Central Bureau of Statistics through providing the material and human requirements that secure the judicious implementation of census activities, particularly in approving the proposed financial budget and providing the necessary facilities for the proper functioning.
Through this collaboration, the Iraq Central Statistical Office (CSO) was able to moblize support from UNFPA Iraq and to learn from the experience of Egypt and Jordan in conducting their 2020 National Population and Housing Census.