Pilot census commences in Kurdistan Region

SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region — The pilot population census has commenced in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq, marking the start of a 14-day process in preparation for the highly anticipated population and housing census scheduled for November.

Earlier on Friday, Iraq’s Ministry of Planning announced the launch of a pilot census across all of Iraq, including the Kurdistan Region.

“The experimental census will span 14 days and involve 764 enumerators, who have received intensive training from the Ministry of Planning. These enumerators will conduct the process across 86 distinct areas in 18 Iraqi provinces,” said Mohammed Taim, Iraq’s Minister of Planning.

Iraq is scheduled to conduct its first national census in over two decades on November 20. The previous census, held in 1997, recorded a population of 22.33 million. According to the Ministry of Planning, Iraq’s population is estimated to be around 42 million in 2022.

The full-scale population census is scheduled for November 20, 2024, with results to be released on the same day. A total of 120,000 enumerators, including 14,000 from the Kurdistan Region, will participate in intensive training courses.

These enumerators, selected from the Ministry of Education staff, will learn the intricacies of the survey process, including how to complete the forms, use tablets, and manage numbering and listing operations.

The Governor of Sulaimani, Haval Abubakir, emphasized the significance of the pilot census during its launch, noting that it addresses population growth in both the Kurdistan Region and Iraq as a whole. This is particularly important as a census has not been conducted in the Kurdistan Region since 1987.

“We have taken all necessary steps to ensure the process’s success. This questionnaire is particularly significant because it is conducted digitally, and the data collected will remain current for years to come,” said Governor Abubakir.

Mahmood Osman, the Executive Director of the Kurdistan Region’s Census, speaking to Zoom News, emphasized the use of advanced electronic devices in carrying out the census. He stated, “This is the first time a census in Iraq is being conducted electronically to ensure its accuracy.”

Mahmood Osman, the Executive Director of the Kurdistan Region's Census. Photo: Screengrab/ Zoom News
Mahmood Osman, the Executive Director of the Kurdistan Region’s Census. Photo: Screengrab/ Zoom News

“This trial survey serves as a preparatory exercise for our teams to learn how to use the devices and complete the forms. The goal is to identify and address any potential shortcomings and issues before the full-scale population census in November,” said Osman.

The previous census, conducted over 25 years ago, omitted the Kurdistan Region due to political tensions during Saddam Hussein’s regime. However, the upcoming census, slated for November, lacks questions pertaining to ethnicity and religion.

This omission has raised concerns in the Kurdistan Region, fearing possible demographic implications. However, officials in Baghdad maintain that the November census aims solely for developmental purposes, focusing on assessing living conditions.

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