Census not about pulling figures from documents

Eba Kandovazu

Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) Chief Statistician, Alex Shimuafeni says that suggestions to retrieve population data from the Home Affairs Ministry and hospitals data will not give an accurate picture of the intended outcome of the Population and Housing Census.

Pulling figures from Home Affairs and hospital data, Shimuafeni warned, will exclude critical groups such as the homeless, people who are not registered anywhere and foreigners or visitors who live in the country.

Yesterday, the NSA announced that it would no longer carry out the Population and Housing Census, which was scheduled for August this year. Spokesperson Sakaria Iipumbu said that the census due to financial constraints was funded for in the national budget of 2022/2023, which was tabled last week in parliament by Finance Minister Iipumbu Shiimi.

Contrary to suggestions on social media, Shimuafeni stressed that counting and enumerating is not as easy as going into a hospital and getting a register.

“The census is about Population and Housing. With population you need to get demographics of the population, employment status, disabilities, education, access to water and other services, etc and some of these variables you will not get from a register.

The housing characteristics, type of house, type of material of a house such as bricks and mortar, zink, etc also play a role. Other ways of counting and enumerating people could exclude the homeless. People who are not registered anywhere, foreigners or visitors who live in the country might be difficult to count and enumerate, ” Shimuafeni explained.

The Chief Statistician in an earlier interview with this publication said that N$1 billion was needed to carry out the much anticipated census. A total N$134 million was already spent on the census, according to Shimuafeni.

Asked whether the exclusion of the census in the budget caught the NSA off guard, Shimuafeni said ”a budget is something that cannot take in all the needs. I accept the budget as it is. We just have to adopt and carry on with the other ongoing activities,”

Queried on the progress of the borrowing of 11 500 tablets from the Kenyan National Bureau of Statistics, Shimuafeni stated that “it was at the planning [phase] of bringing them into the country”.

A total 11 500 enumerators were to be employed for the census. Meanwhile, Shimuafeni also explained that the money already spent has gone in vain with regard to the preparations of the census, saying that all exercises are still valid for the project once it comes on stream.

“All the money spent was used for various projects like the Census Mapping project is an exercise where all the infrastructures were accounted for in the country, be it households, institutions etc. The purpose of the pilot project is to test the census tools such as the questionnaire lengths, how well questions are understood etc. All these exercises are still valid for the Census project once it continues,” he said.

By Observer