More than 200 out of an estimated 700 statisticians have been trained to conduct a nationwide door-to-door census in March 2008, officials said Thursday.
About $3 million will be spent on the national census, which will be conducted over two weeks, said San Sithan, director general of the Ministry of Planning’s National Institute of Statistics.
“For the first stage, we need to train all statistical staff at various levels, which include all concerned ministries, provincial and district levels,” San Sithan told a seminar.
“Then those officials will visit door-to-door to conduct a population census of each family,” he said.
San Sithan added that he did not believe the census would affect the national election, which is scheduled to be held in mid-2008. He also said he did not believe the statisticians would disturb the general public.
“Our Cambodian people have much free time off work within that month, so it would be comfortable for us to collect clear statistics,” he said.
Members of the general public interviewed during the two weeks will be asked about their ages, careers and education, as well as how many family members they have.
The census, which is supported by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, is expected to put the Cambodian population at more than 14 million. Today, it is counted at 13 million.
Hang Puthea, president of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, expressed concern about the census’ proximity to the election, warning that people posing as statisticians could use the census to influence voting patterns.
“Opportunists could take that time to earn interests for their political party for the coming election,” he said.
Hang Puthea called on both the National Election Committee and the government to monitor the census closely to ensure that this does not happen.