Statistics agencies in Bosnia have started a test census to highlight possible problems in the system ahead of a nationwide survey in April next year.The pilot population and housing census began on October 15 and will continue for two weeks until October 29.
It will be conducted in 60 areas across Bosnia and Herzegovina and is expected to show whether the country is capable of conducting a full census next spring.
Zdenko Milinovic, director of the Bosnian Statistics Agency, told a press conference on Friday in Sarajevo that the test census will show flaws in the system of head counting.
“The purpose of this test census is to spot mistakes,” Milinovic said, adding that results will not be used to show the demographic data but only to test the methodology that will be used for the full census.
Renzo Daviddi, deputy head of EU delegation to Bosnia, agreed that was vital to test the system ahead of the nationwide census, which will provide concrete information for bodies like the EU that have been forced to rely on estimated data for the past two decades.
“The pilot census is very important because we’ll test the system…before the real operation takes place,” Daviddi said.
Directors of the two entity statistics agencies said on Friday that staff members are ready and new workers have been hired and trained.
Members of the International Monitoring Operation for the Bosnian census will be overseeing the test census which has 45 questions, all of which are obligatory except for two regarding religion and ethnicity and nationality.
“We all want to see how the census enumerators will work, how the personal data will be protected and whether they’re working according to international census standards,”
The International Monitoring Operation will analyse the results and meet with the Bosnian authorities in mid-December to advise them on whether to conduct the full census.
Should it go ahead as planned, the 2013 census would reveal the true demographic state of the country for the first time since the 1992-5 war.
The last census in 1991 showed that 4.4 million people lived in Bosnia, and the overall population is thought to have fallen markedly since then. The United Nations estimates that Bosnia and Herzegovina is today home to some 3.8 million people.
In 1991, Bosniaks made up 43.5 per cent of the population, Serbs 31.2 per cent, Croats 17.4 and some 5.5 of the population declared themselves Yugoslavs.
The estimated cost of the 2013 census will be around 21 million euros though that could rise further before April. The test census will cost around 100,000 euros.