First in 27 years

Iraq steps up preperations for nationwide census in Novembe

NEWSROOM – Iraq will undertake a nationwide census on Nov. 29, 2024, marking the first such effort in 27 years.

For the first time in Iraq’s history, the census will be conducted electronically, moving away from the paper-based methods used in previous counts.

The last census, conducted in 1997, recorded Iraq’s population at 22.33 million. According to the Ministry of Planning, the population was estimated at 42,248,883 in 2022, reflecting an annual growth rate of 2.5%. As of 2023, Iraq’s population is estimated at 43,324,000. The 1997 census did not include the Kurdistan Region.

On Monday, Iraqi Minister of Planning Mohammed Ali Tamim issued a call to all provincial governors, urging them to prepare for the upcoming national census. He emphasized the importance of readiness, noting that governors will serve as heads of the census high committees in their respective governorates.

The letter calls on governors to support their local statistics departments, facilitate census operations, form subcommittees, and rally broad support for the project. They are also instructed to provide logistical requirements, storage facilities, training halls, and support for pilot census activities that began on Wednesday.

A special meeting was previously held on April 7, 2024, at the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Ministry of Planning. According to Sirwan Muhammad, head of the Kurdistan Region Statistics Office, the focus was on ensuring the census process aligns with the state’s planning and development goals, particularly in terms of urban development, service provision, and avoiding political manipulation.

The Kurdistan Regional Government’s minister of planning warned that the census should not be used for ‘political purposes’ or demographic changes. In April, it was reported that the census will exclude any gathering of statistics on ethnicity.

In an interview with the Iraqi News Agency, Ministry of Planning spokesperson Abdul Zahra Al-Hindawi stated, “The general census of population will cover all governorates and areas of Iraq.” He emphasized that a comprehensive plan has been developed with specific timelines to ensure that all residents, including nomadic Bedouins in the desert and camp residents, are counted.

Al-Hindawi explained that the locations of the Bedouins will be identified using GIS and satellite images of administrative units. Enumerators will then be deployed to these areas to execute the census.

Preparations for the census are underway. A meeting was held on May 14, 2024, between the Iraqi Census Committee and the Kurdistan Region’s Census Committee. Jutiyar Adel, head of the KRG’s Media and Information Department, announced that the meeting aimed to discuss the preparations in the Kurdistan Region to ensure readiness for the nationwide census. Discussions focused on the implementation phases and procedural aspects.