A decade is about to clock for the Central Statistics Office to conduct the fifth population census around the country in 2011. Botswana has successfully carried out censuses every ten years since independence, from 1971 to 2001.
Speaking at the launch of the population and housing census, Ontefetse Mathambo, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning said the exercise gives the government an opportunity to take stock of our population in terms of numbers, distribution, and composition and also identify the challenges that our country needs to tackle.
He mentioned the importance of statistics in that the data and information provided through the censuses provide a firm basis for evidence-based development planning process.
“Such information does not assist the government alone, but it also assists other stakeholders and development partners who contribute in ensuring that every citizen lives a meaningful life with dignity,” said Mathambo.
Mathambo further said not everything that the different stakeholders requested to be covered may be done due to a number of factors, including budgetary constraints and methodological considerations.
The budget has been reduced from P243 million to P175 million, the reason Mathambo mentioned was of the recent global economic downturn, “which has presented significant budgetary challenges to the nation”.
He said that he encourages the CSO to work with the limited resources and meet their objectives.
“We plead with the private sectors to provide transport and government departments to assist with their stuff and if need be pay their own stuff for overtime,” he said.
Despite that, he said the United Nations Population Fund has started collaborating with government in resource mobilization and providing technical assistance for undertaking the census.
“With the given current financial situation, I believe that our partners will continue to demonstrate the same goodwill by augmenting government’s resources to ensure that we have a successful census,” said Mathambo.
Argentina Matavel, UNFPA representative, said that in the 2010 round of censuses, a few countries in Africa have successfully completed the exercise, some being Mozambique, Malawi and Sudan. However, the countries counted with the full support, especially financial, from development partners.
“Botswana was able to fully finance the 2001 census, due to good mineral revenues and good governance, but things are different this time, censuses are very costly,” said Matavel.
She further said funding at this stage is rather uncertain as their financial capability is minimal.
“UNFPA is committed to walk alongside government to ensure that the 2011 census is successful.”
Inadequate funding will either compromise the quality of the data or its analysis or both and she said that good data is critical to any good planning.
Also present at the launch was government statistician, Anna Majelantle who said they face more challenges than the feasible ones as natural events as floods, which constrain access to certain localities. Other challenges she mentioned were loss of experienced personnel, enumeration of special groups as illegal immigrants. One major problem that she said they face at all the time is locality boundaries.
“We get people rejecting our figures at the end of the census because it is always difficult to tell where the villages end, whereas in cities like Gaborone it is clear to tell the difference.”
However, the objectives and work plan are said to be outlined in the census project document. It shows developments done so far as commencement of cartographic field work, which started in July 209, and expected to be completed in April 2011.The main enumeration, the minister said, will be done in August 2011 and results disseminated in different phases between September 2011 and 2014.