Manuel appeals to community to assist with census

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cape Town - 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.

Census 2011, which will run from 10 to 31 October, will cost R2 billion and involve 156 000 census officials.

Manuel was briefing media in Parliament ahead of presenting Statistics South Africa's (Stats SA) budget of R1.2 billion - double that of the previous financial year.

Statistics SA is 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, said Manuel.

He 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 are being carried out.

Census statistics also needed to be placed in a format with which ordinary people can engage, he 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," said Manuel.

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 of Stats SA, 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 next year. 

South Africa would be divided into 103 000 enumeration areas, each with about 150 dwellings.

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

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

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

He said the 2007 Community Survey, as well as tests in 2008 and 2009 and a dress rehearsal held in October last year for Census 2011, 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, experts have also been engaged to analyse various datasets, said Malogoana.

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.

Manuel said Statistics SA was also working on updating how the consumer price index (CPI) and producer price index (PPI) are 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 (income) on, so that we can recalibrate the basket for inflation."

The income and expenditure survey, which would be concluded in September, involved 30 000 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, said Manuel. 

Lehlola added that Stats SA had also been involved in preliminary work on how to measure poverty and had conducted living conditions survey, which will be published in June. - BuaNews