The first concrete count of BiH citizens in 30 years is to take place next spring.
By Mladen Dragojlovic for Southeast European Times in Banja Luka -- 23/10/12
A census in 1991 showed that 4.33 million citizens live in BiH, but the results were never validated. [Reuters]
After more than 30 years without a verified count of its citizens, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is preparing for a census next spring. In order to check the readiness of enumerators and to define any possible problems, a pilot count, overseen by a team of international monitors, kicked off last week.
"What this team wants to see is protection of personal information and work of enumerators on the field, including respect of international standards," Zdravko Milinovic, director of the BiH Agency for Statistics, said Friday (October 19th).
The two-week long pilot census will end on October 29th, and enumerators will visit about 3,000 households in Republika Srpska (RS) and the Federation of BiH. It is estimated that they will count about 9,000 people -- a big enough number to project problems.
Data obtained in the pilot census will be processed over the next six months, which will allow the kinks to be worked out for a successful census next year.
A census in 1991 showed that 4.33 million citizens live in BiH, but because of the ongoing conflict at the time, the results were never validated.
The lack of concrete population numbers has been a huge handicap for the country and all segments of society, Stevo Pasalic, president of the Council for Demographic Policy in RS, told SETimes.
"The results of census are crucial for the country -- the worst situation is not to have them, as it is in BiH. In the past decades we lost a lot because everything was based on estimations from minimal to maximal, and everybody explained them as he wants. Also, every plan was based on estimations so it led to mistakes," Pasalic said.
He said that this data will be priceless just in case of full respect of law. Pasalic hopes that, with international monitoring, everything will be finished in the best and legal way.
Igor Gavran, an economic analyst from Foreign Trade Chamber of BiH, said that pilot census is more important for the statistics agency than for the citizens, but also it gives hope that the real count will take place smoothly and as planned.
"This data is extremely important for any strategy planning. It is sure that many companies made plans on the basis of estimations and final result was catastrophe. I doubt that data will be fully valid, because a lot of people actually don’t live in the place where they have address but it will give a clearer picture of BiH population," Gavran told SETimes.
The data will also be important for the country's path towards EU accession and the use of Union preaccession funds. With the new, concrete data, he said, European authorities can decide the amount of assistance that BiH need to reach EU standards in various areas of society, such as education and healthcare.
Gostimir Popovic, a political analyst and former member of the RS government, said the pilot census is a sign that politicians in BiH are able to agree on basic questions.
"For politicians, it will be a parameter for future work on the field. Problem is that we, in this moment, have no data to compare results of census. This census will be only a base for the future," Popovic told SETimes.