Cambodia is currently short $3.5 million to fund a population census next year, and is trying to secure outside support, an official confirmed on Tuesday.

The Ministry of Economy and Finance has allocated $8.5 million for the count, below the $12 million required. Thus far, there have been no funding commitments from development partners, said Sok Kosal, deputy director general at the National Institute of Statistics.

For the previous two censuses, including the last one in 2008, which cost $8 million, development partners covered most of the costs. If the government is not able to secure the additional funding, Kosal said, it will still try to conduct the census with the available funds.

The United Nations Population Fund and the Japan International Cooperation Agency were among some of the developing partners that provided financial and technical support for the 2008 census, according to government documents. JICA did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Catherine Breen Kamkong , deputy representative for the United Nations Population Fund Cambodia (UNFPA), on Wednesday estimated Cambodia’s 2019 census funding gap at around $4.2 million, and said the UN agency had been working with the National Institute of Statistics to find donor support to close the funding gap.

“Whilst a number of donors have indicated a potential interest in providing financial support there is still an unfunded gap of around 4.2 million USD which includes the resource gap that UNFPA requires to provide technical assistance with expert census technical advisors,” she wrote in an email.

Breen Kamkong confirmed that the Cambodia office provided financial and technical support for the two previous censuses in 2008 and 1998. For the 2019 census, the agency has continued to provide financial and technical support for preparatory requirements since 2015.

The census, which is conducted once each decade, was supposed to take place this year but will now begin March 3, 2019, supposedly because of July’s national elections.

Some 37,000 census workers and 9,000 supervisors will be deployed to collect the data, Kosal said.

“We are doing it according to the standard procedures recommended by the United Nations,” he said. “All development partners will observe the field data collection.”

Officials are now finalising the census questionnaire to collect demographic, social and economic statistics. The data will include births, deaths, migration, education and employment status, among other categories.

“The census data is to inform policymakers, and most of the questions are aligned with the sustainable development goals,” Kosal said.

A pilot census will be carried out after the Khmer New Year, which will be followed by a census campaign, he said. Staff at the central level will then be trained and later deployed to train staff at the lower levels.

A preliminary report with just demographics data will be released three months after the census is carried out, while the final report is expected to be published eight months later.

This article has been updated with comments from the United Nations Population Fund Cambodia.