JIS News

KINGSTON — Director General of the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), Sonia Jackson, says the agency is  ready to undertake the 2011 Population and Housing Census (Census 2011), slated to officially get underway on Tuesday, April 5.

Ms. Jackson tells JIS News that virtually all of the requisite activities necessary to carry out the data collection exercise have been completed. “It’s all systems go,” she declares.

This year’s census, being undertaken under the theme:  ‘Everyone Counts – You, Me, All a Wi’, is Jamaica’s 14th dating back to 1943, one year before the country’s first general elections under Universal Adult Suffrage. The 1943 edition was the first modern census for the nation.

A census is defined as a count. In this regard, the Population and Housing Census is a total process comprising the collection, compilation, evaluation, analysing and publishing or, otherwise, dissemination of data on demographic, economic and social conditions of the people, as well as analysing the conditions under which they live at a specific period of time.

This information, which may relate to the entire country or a well defined area, provides facts pivotal to the Government’s policymaking, planning and administrative programmes and activities.

The census is also vital for Vision 2030 Jamaica, which is the country’s first long-term national development plan, which aims at enabling Jamaica to achieve developed country status by 2030.  It is based on a comprehensive vision:  “Jamaica, the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business."                                                                                                                                

The United Nations (UN) recommends that countries conduct a census every 10 years to facilitate the capturing of changes in the structure and movement of their population. Against this background, Census 2011 is being implemented within the framework established and recommended by the UN for the 2010 World Programme, covering the period 2005 to 2014, and is scheduled to take place over a four-month period, from April 5, at cost of  $1.4 billion.  

Jamaica’s last census was done in 2001, at which time the population count was 2,607,632 persons.

Outlining some of the preparations  for  Census 2011, Ms. Jackson tells JIS News that these included: formulation of a Census Steering Committee, comprising representatives of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), mainly the social sector stakeholders, such as the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) , and academia, among others; gazzetting of the Census Regulation and Order, 90 days before the census commences; recruiting and training persons to serve as field managers/supervisors and census takers,  as well as general preparation of STATIN’S central, regional and field offices for the exercise.

She informs that two questionnaires will be used in this year’s census, one to capture the individual’s information, such as: name, age, date and place of birth, place of residence, gender, and ethnicity. The other questionnaire, which will record household data, incorporating information covering: the type of dwelling the interviewees reside in, land tenure, and method of waste disposal, among other things.

The Director General points out that, while these are standard questions spawning censuses, some of the areas covered fluctuate over periods. Citing examples, she informs that matters related to information and communication technology (ICT), which were incorporated in the 2001 census questionnaires, will feature again this year. Additionally, she says transport related issues, which were not featured in 2001, have also been incorporated, hence the Transport Ministry’s representation on the Steering Committee.

Another significant activity undertaken, which Ms. Jackson stresses is integral to the accurate collection of data, is the field mapping process, pointing out that the census is both household and map-based. In this regard, she says STATIN has to ensure that they have accurate parishes and administrative (constituency) boundaries, and enumeration districts (EDs) mapped out, citing their collaboration with the Electoral Office of Jamaica.

The Director General informs that the island is divided into just over 5,000 enumeration districts, explaining that an ED comprises approximately 150 households in urban centres, and 100 in rural areas.

Nearly 7,000 persons have been recruited to carry out the census. These, the Director General says include: approximately 61 area managers/coordinators; about 1,200 zone supervisors; and some 5,000 census takers, each of whom will be assigned to an enumeration district.

Ms. Jackson says personnel were recruited through advertisements for census takers, and through personal contacts in the case of the supervisory and managerial staff, pointing out that a significant number of the latter are STATIN staff. Training for these persons, she adds, was provided by trainers from the PIOJ, among other entities.

With the necessary planning completed and arrangements in place, Ms. Jackson is hoping to complete data collection by early July.

“That will give us April, May and June. So, we are talking about three months; the maximum, we are hoping, is four months,” she says.

Today (Monday, April 4) is Census Day, and when the Census 2011 data collection exercise commences on April 5, STATIN will seek to ascertain specific details as obtained then. 

Ms. Jackson is urging the nation to co-operate with the census takers when they visit their homes.