Start of population census now set for October By Patrick Denny
Stabroek News
June 21, 2002

Related Links: Articles on stuff
Letters Menu Archival Menu

A number of logistical hiccups have pushed the start of the population census back to October.

The exact date is to be announced at a media briefing today following a planning meeting to decide on the day to be designated Census Day, according to the Chief Statistician, Bureau of Statistics, Lennox Benjamin.

The law empowers the chief statistician to advise the government of the need for a census and to designate Census Day. The government provides the funding for the exercise.

Benjamin told Stabroek News that among the factors which delayed the start of the five-week field exercise aspect of the census was the late arrival of the representatives of Swedish and Chilean firms, which supplied the high-speed scanners that would be used in processing the information collected by the more than 2,800 enumerators.

Benjamin says that the use of the high-speed scanners would significantly reduce the period within which the census results would become available from between 30 to 36 months to six months.

He said that the one-month delay resulted in the late completion of the training of the bureau's personnel who would coach the temporary staff to be taken on for the census exercise.

One million questionnaires

Another logistical delay is the more than one million questionnaires that are being electronically designed by a firm in Brazil, the only one in the region capable of producing it in the format compatible with the high-speed scanners. Benjamin said that the performance of the firm was good during the exercise in Region 9 (Upper Essequibo/Upper Takatu) earlier this year. This region was done first to take advantage of the dry season. The questionnaires were developed by the bureau's staff and sent to the Brazilian firm to be put in the required electronic format.

Another logistical delay was the decision by the bureau to extend the closing date for applications for employment during the exercise. The decision was taken because of the large number of persons who called the bureau when they saw the advertisement about the exercise during the broadcast of the recent cricket series between the West Indies and India.

He said that during the week the bureau staff would be visiting the various regions from which applications were received to interview the applicants and to invite those selected for an interview and training.

Benjamin explained that the first set of persons to be identified would be the coordinators. Fifty coordinators are required.

He said that these persons are expected to have their own vehicles, the necessary administrative expertise and a demonstrated sense of responsibility and dedication. The fifty would be the first line of trainers who among other things would each be responsible for monitoring the work of five supervisors. When identified and trained, they would then fan out to the other ten regions to conduct the training of the more than 2,000 enumerators to be employed in the exercise.

The supervisors would be selected based on their performance on the training course, their management ability and their reliability. When identified these persons would be exposed to further training.

Enumeration districts

Other logistical arrangements that are being put in place are the production of maps of the 3,000 enumeration districts. The survey unit of the bureau is preparing the maps. The challenge, Benjamin noted, would be ensuring that the boundaries are contiguous and that they remain consistent over time.

Each enumerator would be responsible for a district, which in the more densely populated areas would contain about 100 households. These households would comprise about 400-500 people. The boundaries of the enumeration districts have to be contiguous so as to avoid over-counting or under-counting in any particular area.

Benjamin said that in Sophia, delimiting the districts presents a challenge as the houses are not always at right angles. Also, he said, whereas in past censuses Sophia was one district which was sparsely populated, for the upcoming census it will be divided into several districts.

Benjamin said that the enumerators would be provided with special identification cards, which they would have to return to the bureau on the completion of the exercise. A specimen of the identification cards would be published in the print and electronic media so that householders would know what to demand from persons claiming to be census staff. He said that because the enumerators would be working part-time, they would be visiting the various households in the early evenings, on weekends and holidays. Benjamin said the enumerators would take information from any member of the household who could give details about the members of that household. The information required would be about the status of the household at a particular date - the day designated Census Day. He said that the law - Chap 19:09 - requires persons to provide the enumerators with information about the household. He pointed out that in countries such as Pakistan and Turkey, the population is required to remain at home on Census Day until they have provided the information to the enumerators. Benjamin says that the bureau would be accelerating its publicity campaign to educate the populace about the benefits that would be derived from the body of information that would be collected.


He said that foreign-owned companies in Guyana, the commercial banking sector and the Ministry of Health utilise the data generated from the census and other surveys conducted by the bureau.

Benjamin added that the field exercise aspect of the census would cost about $85 million, most of which would go towards remuneration and travelling for the enumerators.

The enumerators would be paid according to a formula, which will provide for a flat contract fee plus an incentive payment for the satisfactory completion of the questionnaires assigned to them. Benjamin stressed that the bureau would be setting very rigid quality and completion standards, as it would not be paying for any work it has to have re-assigned.

Benjamin revealed that the Regional Census Coordinating Committee (RCCC) would be providing the bureau with technical assistance in the areas it requests. These, he said, are likely to be in the areas of training, demographic analysis, and trouble-shooting problems which arise from the use of the new technology.

He said too that the regional body, which is coordinating the conduct of the census in the Caribbean Community would be providing technical assistance.

The bureau will also seek assistance in accessing expertise for the Advisory Committee it will set up. This committee would be responsible for the outreach to the various sectors to ascertain their needs for the development of a special database.

He said that the RCCC would be asked to provide a person who knows about what was done in the other territories that have completed their census. Guyana and Suriname are the only two member states left to complete their national census.

The last census was conducted in 1991. Censuses have been held in Guyana since 1838 and in the post-WWII years in 1946 and thereafter at ten-year intervals.