2018 Population and Housing Census starts Monday

Kasungu: Amid some problems prior to the 2018 Population and Housing Census (PHC), the National Statistics Office (NSO), says all is in place for the exercise to start this Monday.

PHC is a process of collecting, compiling, evaluating, analyzing, publishing and disseminating demographic, economic, and social data and information of all persons and their living quarters in a country at a particular time, usually conducted every ten years in Malawi.

NSO Public Relations Officer, Kingsley Manda told Malawi News Agency (Mana) in an interview that all the problems that have been there concerning enumerators and training materials have all been solved.

Speaking earlier to MANA, some enumerators in Kasungu said they have only received K20, 000 allowances instead of K120, 000 which they were promised for the six days training.

One of the enumerators who opted for anonymity said he was forced to sleep in a classroom because he didn’t have money when he went for training on Monday.

We only received an allowance for a day during the second day of our training but since then, we have not been given anything. This has been an inconvenience to most of us, he said.

Another one complained on the training materials, saying since for the first time the PHC will use Computer Assisted Personal Interviews (CAPI), a technology that requires hand-held devices like tablets, the said tablets only came on Thursday.

We were supposed to familiarize ourselves with the tablets that we will use to capture data but we received them on Thursday, which is just little time to master them and the application used, she told Mana.

On Friday, enumerators in Kasungu marched to the District Commissioner’s office to protest the unpaid allowances.

Despite clashing with police, the enumerators calmed down after some NSO officials assured them that they would get their money.

Commenting on the issue, Manda said the enumerators were given K20 000 as start-up allowance while waiting for the processing of money from donor partners and the Malawi Government, which required some procedures to be released.

The money is from donor partners and the government and all these use banks to pay for services and not cash. So we decided to pay them one day training allowances as they wait for their full training allowances, said Manda.

Manda said the trainees were told to have cash on them to use while their bank details were being collected for payment of allowances through banks. However, some delayed in providing the details while others’ details had mistakes.

He said everyone would get their full allowances of K120, 000, pleading with them to bear with NSO and complete the training.

A visit to the training centre in Kasungu on Thursday showed that tablets had been distributed to the enumerators, meaning they had at least, a minimum of two days to familiarize with the tablets.

Meanwhile, another setback was with district public awareness exercise which was scheduled to start on 27th August but by Friday 31st it had not started.

District Information Officers (DIOs) in all the districts were supposed to lead the exercise but despite being briefed on the exercise in Lilongwe, the DIOs have also not been given their allowances and transport refunds. They had not also received resources for the exercise by Friday.

However, Manda assured that NSO was ready to start the PHC on Monday 3rd September as all preparations were done.

Overall, we are prepared, we had a deficit in our budget but we have been covered by partners and government. We are okay, all the tablets were delivered and we have sent them to the districts, said Manda.

He added that the institution had already done a considerable work on awareness through posters, leaflets and also jingles in different languages.

District Executive Committees (DEC), Traditional Authorities and the Group Village Heads (GVHs) have already been engaged and relayed the information to their subjects, according to Manda. HE said the publicity will continue throughout the exercise.

Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Goodall launched the public awareness and advocacy campaign for the 2018 PHC on 7 June in Lilongwe where he emphasized on the importance of census for national development.

Malawi Government, through NSO conducts PHC every 10 years in line with the United Nations principles and recommendations for conducting censuses.

Source: Malawi News Agency MANA