Thursday, September 24, 2009

Address at the Launch of the Final National Report of the 2008 Population Census

Chaktomuk Conference Hall, September 7, 2009

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen Representatives of Development Partners,
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen Distinguished National and International Guests,

It is my privilege and pleasure to be here at the historic launch of the “Final Report of the 2008 Population Census” which has been successfully surveyed.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to commend the national commission, the technical committee, the public relation committee, the National Institute of Statistics, and all of their officials for the hard work contributing to the successful and smooth implementation of this project. Along with this, I highly value the outcome of the census which has been collectively conducted by the more than 40,000 monitors and interviewers with participation from more than 2.8 million households across the country. The outcome represents valuable data for policy makers’ decision in the formulation of various strategic plans and socio-economic development plans. Particularly, I would like to extend my deep gratitude to UNFPA, JICA, the Government of Japan and the Government of Germany for their technical and financial supports leading to the successful implementation of the project.

According to the report of H.E. Senior Minister, Minister of Planning, we can see that implementation processes of population census were in accordance with our plan and target. Census is indeed a very detailed set of data comprising of figures, description and general situation about our population. Moreover, the census gives us critical indicators for comparing socio-economic condition and development progress among countries and regions, and a tool for assessing the progress and effectiveness of various policy programs of the Royal Government and other executing agencies.

In this sense, I believe that data and statistics taken from the 2008 census will become an important tool of the Royal Government in reshaping the reform programs, evaluating and monitoring development strategies, assessing the poverty status and CMDG progress to realize poverty reduction target, ensure sustainable development, and facilitate national and international researchers.

In particular, the 2008 mid-term review of the National Strategic Development Plan will be constantly reviewed and updated to match the latest development and available data. Population and socio-economic indicators, especially population growth and distribution, education, health, labour, infrastructure and gender equity are all important and must be seriously taken into account.

The report and data regarding the population, economy, social progress, and culture being disseminated in this ceremony are valuable and provide the National Institute of Statistics and The Ministry of Planning the latest indicators to better their recommendations and socio-economic development strategies, promote good governance and improve and expand public services. In this connection, I strongly hope that development partners, especially UNFPA and JICA, will continue to support us.

According to the census, Cambodian population stood at 13.7 million in 2008, contributing to 2.3% of the ASEAN population. The population was only 10 million in 1993. In our first census in 1998, Cambodian population was 11.4 million and the growth rate was 2.5% per annum. Following that year, the growth rate then declined to 1.54% and the population increased to 13.4 million in 2008. According to the above figures and observation, we can see the population growth rate gradually declined, reflecting successes in national demographic policies and public cooperation to reduce the fertility and mortality rate. However, we have more works to be done to improve welfare of the people, especially in the areas of maternal health and maternal and child mortalities.

Apparently, population density increased from 64 to 75 per square Kilo meter within a decade. The number is lower comparing to other south-east Asia countries, for instead, 192 in Thailand and 260 in Vietnam. The density is highest, which is 261 persons per square kilo meter, in the plain area. Kampong Cham is the most populous province among all. Moreover, we observe that urbanization is picking up all over the country. We found that 93% of Cambodian lives in their own homes, of which 77% for urban and 96% for rural area. Urban population increased to 19.5%, of which 64.46% are migrants from rural to urban area. As the result, urban areas have become more crowded that lead to bump up demand for residents and consumption goods. The above data and information reflect the need for the Royal Government to develop rural area and minimize rural-urban migrants, who seeking for work.

At the same time, we noted the significant increases of men migration to the Northeast and Northwest for agriculture during the last few years. In this regards, the government continues paying attention on expanding irrigated area by developing infrastructure in those provinces, including the rehabilitation, maintenance and effective management of irrigation system, reservoir and pumping station.

Moreover, the census provided us information on age of Cambodia population. Sex and age structure have been transformed during a last decade. Percentage of elder population aged over 60 increased from 5.3 % to 6.4 % and number of household increased by 30% due to separation into smaller family size.

Within ten years, census revealed that literacy of people aged over 7 years old increased from 5.87 million to 8.96 million. From 1998 to 2008, adult literacy rate increased to 79.48% for men and to 70.86% for women. This rate remains low, if comparing to ASEAN countries, but higher than some countries in Asia countries. Proportion of children in school is lower for female than male in both urban and rural area. However, the gap is narrowing comparing 2008 to 1998. According a general survey, proportion of people aged over 14 years old, who are in school, is higher in urban than in rural area. This is due to the educational public services delivery and incentive of parent in sending their children for higher education are better in urban than in rural area. In this regard, we have to continue implementing the vision of “One school for one village” to improve education in Cambodia. Subsequently, we need to strengthen secondary education, high-school and technical training to address the remaining issues, meaning that to eliminate drop-out rate, especially among female in all education level.

This census revealed the labour force participation rate aged 15-64 years old, which is higher for women than men. The rate is higher comparing to ASEAN countries. Among the employed labour forces, 72% are working in agriculture and proportion of working in industry and services increased during 1999 to 2008. Furthermore, the census found that the improvement in the use of built-in household toilets, which reached a third of the total population. For urban household, 81.96% have such kind of sanitary, but only 23.24% for rural household. Similarly, fuel wood still remains the source for cooking in rural area, in which 94.33% is using fuel wood. At urban areas there is a high proportion of people using coal and gas for cooking. This requires us to pay high attention on conduct study and encourage people to use alternative sources of energy to help reduce dependency on fuel wood for the cause of forestry conservation.

With regard to the use of information technology the census revealed that the access to the internet has been growing across the country. In that, a proportion of about 4.5% of people living in urban areas has access to internet, mostly through work and internet cafes. However, the use of internet at rural areas has not been noticed.

Moreover, the 2008 information and data census on the type and number of assets which belong to the people reflected the indicators forecasting the general economic situation of Cambodian people across the country. There is about 58% of people nation-wide have televisions, out of which 81% of urban household have such televisions. There is about 76% of urban household has mobile phones compared to 29% of rural household. The number of urban household who owned motor cycles has increased to 67% compared to 39% of rural household. The number of people owning small vehicles or medium size trucks was about 4.82% across the country. About two third of rural household has bicycles compared to only 50% of urban household.

Base on the above information we can conclude that every data and information relating to the census as well as other observations from one period to another have indeed provided us with the foundation for the implementation of national strategic development program according to the real situation and provided the ability to necessary receive resources for achieving common goal which includes reducing poverty and upgrading the people’s living standard. In this sense, the RGC continues to strive further to incorporate the national population policy into the socio-economic policy and various other plans and programs at all level. The RGC will also continue to strengthen the management of cities and urban areas to become cleaned cities, free of garbage and full of fresh air, good environment and green parks for playing sports and exercise for the cause of people’s health.

In the last decade the Royal Government of Cambodia has maintained its peace, political stability and high economic growth. According to the latest figure from the National Institute of Statistics of the Ministry of Planning, the Gross Domestic Product per capita in present value was US$739 in 2008 when it was only US$253 in 1998. Similarly, from the year 2000 the inflation rate was kept at below 5% or 6%, the highest inflation rate was in 2008 when it reached about 20% but that figure has declined to a single digit in 2009. In constant price, the economic growth in 2004 was 10.3%, 13.3% in 2005, 10.8% in 2006, 10.2% in 2007 and this figure decreased to about 6.7% in 2008 due to the effect of the financial and world economic crisis.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to issue some additional recommendations aiming to strengthen the 2008 census as well as the preparation and management of statistical works which include:

1. The data use for census must be in good quality and reliable and broad in order to derive policies, planning and other national programs.

2. Continue to analyze census’s data comprehensively in order to ensure the need for all kind of data for researches and the data required at the sub-national level.

3. Gather resources from development partners for conducting certain census for the next two or three years, especially the data census and information relating to industry and agriculture which are all important for the national development.

4. Enhance training, capacity building and human resource development because statistic work is complex and involved all sectors which required training and practical experiences for conducting census and observation. Moreover, the publication of census’s data, to users at the national and sub-national level, is also an important task to increase the awareness about the importance of statistic in development programs as well as the effective and efficient use of those statistical data.

5. Strengthen the national statistical system through; strengthening the implementation of statistical rules and regulations; facilitating mechanism by the council of statistics and statistics facilitating association; and developing statistical system in accordance to the law on statistics which is consistent with the statistic master plan. This will avoid double observation and the contradiction results and census’s effectiveness and obtaining a more comprehensive statistical data with quality and confidence.

Again, I would like to sincerely thank to United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Japan Government and Germany Government who has actively support to the success of Cambodia population census 2008.

At the end, I would like to wish Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen the Four Gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.