The NSO should still not be able to conducting a reputable inhabitants depend. The World Financial institution’s 2020 Statistical Capability Indicator scored PNG at 52.2, properly beneath the low- and middle-income nation common of 64.9. Additional, the NSO’s 2021 reform technique acknowledged {that a} lack of presidency funding had contributed to the lack of expert personnel.

It isn’t all gloomy. The NSO can draw on the success of the lately accomplished Demographic and Well being Survey (DHS 2016–2018), funded by USAID and carried out with the Division of Well being, different PNG companies, Australia’s support program, the DHS program, UNFPA and UNICEF. Though it suffered some points, together with taking longer than traditional, the 2018 DHS was an achievement as a big, nationally consultant survey.

The 2024 census will face the identical logistical challenges: troublesome geography and remoteness, extreme climate situations, refusal by respondents to take part, challenges to make sure security of workers, poor telecommunications community protection, and delays in funds and funds to service suppliers. Worldwide companions ought to search for alternatives to assist native officers overcome these hurdles.

All stated, PNG must conduct a census, and one that’s credible. PNG, nonetheless, can’t do that alone. There may be scope for optimism that PNG, with help, can ship a reputable census, because it did in 2018 with the DHS. It can be crucial, nonetheless, that PNG’s improvement companions take notice and put together to help come 2024, to keep away from one other failed census.

This text first appeared in The Interpreter, printed by the Lowy Institute.