Preparations are being made for a head count of all Jamaicans, by way of the Jamaica Population and Housing Census, which will begin on April 5, 2011.
Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’, on July 6, Acting Director, Social Policy, Planning and Research Division of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Easton Williams said that census data is extensively used by the PIOJ to identify trends in population growth, distribution and size, and to make projections.
According to the PIOJ official, the population, which currently stands at close to 2.7 million, is expected to increase to approximately 2.9 million by 2030. He said the population will be at its maximum count in 2035, after which it will begin to decline.
Acting Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean, Dan Baker, outlining the activities planned to observe World Population Day on July 11 and the organization’s role in Jamaica’s preparation for the Population and Housing Census 2011, at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on July 6.
“The population will not reach over 3 million in the distant future. The maximum will be 2.9 and then decline,” he said, adding that this will be due to factors, such as lower birth rates and external migration.
Pointing to the importance of census data, he said the country needs to know every detail of the population and its characteristics, in terms of the employment levels, the size of the population at the national level, the parish level and the community level.
The project will be undertaken by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN).
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) will provide financing, training, and technical support for a number of countries in the region in their census exercise. Already, the organisation has staged regional and national workshops on topics, such as data editing and census costing and budgeting.
Acting Director of the UNFPA’s Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean, Dan Baker, emphasised that counting everyone is an integral part of ensuring that all people are taken into account when the government plans its policies and programmes.
“Reliable data makes a big difference in the way government is able to perform and the key to having good data is the ability to collect it, analyse it and disseminate it in a way that drives good decision making,” he said.
Census collection began in Jamaica in 1960. The national census usually takes place at 10-year intervals.
This information is critical in the formulation of public policy, and provides baseline data for demographic studies, infrastructural planning, health, education and social intervention programmes.
Meanwhile, to commemorate World Population Day (July 11), the UNFPA in association with STATIN and the PIOJ, will be staging an exposition on July 13, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., on the south lawn at Devon House.
Patrons will be able to view exhibits from the government, non-government and private sector organisations, which make direct or indirect use of census data.
A five-minute video on census and its importance will be presented at the opening ceremony. Lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Psychology and Social Work, University of the West Indies, Dr. Heather Ricketts, will be the Guest Speaker.