Call for communities to help with Census

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20 April 2011

Trevor Manuel, minister in the Presidency responsible for national planning, has called on community members to assist officials when Census 2011 takes place later this year.

Briefing journalists in Cape Town on Tuesday before presenting Statistics South Africa's budget vote in Parliament, Manuel said that Stats SA was liaising with various community organisations including those that represent local and immigrant communities and bodies corporate, to ensure that census officials have easy access to all households

Census 2011, which will run from 10 to 31 October, will cost R2-billion and involve 156000 census officials.

Census statistics needed to be published in a format with which ordinary people could engage, Manuel said. "So that it's not just something that market research companies use, but that it becomes part of the daily discourse of people, so that we understand our surrounds better."

The results for Census 2011 would be published sooner than in previous censuses, meaning that the processes that census officials followed would need to be worked through more thoroughly than in the past, Manuel said.

Statistician-General Pali Lehlola admitted that it would be a "mammoth task", but by using scanning technology perfected since the last census in 2001, the results would be out by November 2012.

103 000 enumeration areas

For counting purposes, South Africa will be divided into 103000 enumeration areas, each with about 150 dwellings.

Enumeration officials will visit households in their respective areas and ask each household about 75 questions, ranging from a person's work and level of education to electricity and sanitation, and how many children each woman in the household has.

Howard Gabriels, chair of the Statistics Council, said a key focus of statisticians' work has been understanding what led to the high undercount of the two previous censuses, in 1996 and 2001.

Census 2011 project director Calvin Malogoana said he was "confident" that improvements had been made since the 2001 census.

He said the 2007 Community Survey, as well as tests in 2008 and 2009 and a dress rehearsal held in October last year, had helped Stats SA to better prepare for this year's census.

Added to this, 6 000 fieldworkers were last year taken through basic statistics training, and experts had also been engaged to analyse various datasets, Malogoana said.

A sample of enumerator areas would be taken after the conclusion of the census, and a separate post-enumeration team would conduct a second survey with the same questionnaire to determine the level of the undercount.

Living conditions, income and expenditure

Manuel called on Parliament to be more involved in the oversight of Stats SA, adding that statistics were vital in planning for development and in determining whether free and basic services were being carried out.

Lehlola said that Stats SA had also been involved in preliminary work on how to measure poverty, and had conducted living conditions survey the results of which would be published in June.

Manuel said Stats SA was also working on updating how the consumer price index (CPI) and producer price index (PPI) were calculated. In 2008, the CPI was updated in line with a new basket of goods used to calculate the index.

Said Manuel: "It's a long process, but the income and expenditure survey is in the field now, and then there has to be very detailed analysis of what people are earning and what they are spending it on, so that we can recalibrate the basket for inflation."

The income and expenditure survey, which will be concluded in September, involved 30000 households using diaries to record what they spent on goods over a four-week period.

A new producer price index would be ready at the earliest late next year, while the a new basket of goods for the CPI would be released in September next year, Manuel said.

Source: BuaNews

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People make their way to work up Strand Street in Cape Town (Photo: Rodger Bosch, MediaClubSouthAfrica.com)

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