2020 Census preps go into top gear

Preparations to conduct the next round of census have advanced as the Ministry of National Development Planning through the Zambia Statistics Agency – Zamstats flagged off activities for the 2020 Census Mapping exercise in five provinces of Zambia last December.

Minister of National Development Planning Alexander Chiteme during a Resource Mobilisation High Level meeting held in Lusaka recently unleashed a Census Budget of K758, 273, 806 translated to over US$ 53 million at a rate of US$ 1 = 14.25

A funding gap of K300, 336, 231 needs to be met to achieve a successful census slated for August this year.  “We have already started some processes and some procedures through the mapping and listing and also the procurement of Tablets which are going to be used during the exercise”, said the Minster.

And United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator Coumba MarGadio emphasized the importance of conducting a census at different levels and how the UN will do the best they can to advocate for resources for the census undertaking to be a success. She added that the UN family has so far provided technical support and procurement of what is needed for the census. As evidenced from the census budget, the 2020 census is a mammoth task which requires colossal sums of money and adequate preparation for it to be implemented.

Government aims to ensure that the journey to achieving a successful census is realised and has committed to meet 60 percent of the required census budget. Conducting a census is vital as Zambia has a proven track record of conducting census from the time she gained independence in 1964.

During the flag off to mark the commencement of census mapping, Mr. Chiteme said the success of the previous censuses would not have been possible without collaborations from governments, cooperating partners, private institutions and the citizenry. To this effect, the World Bank funded the 2020 Census Mapping in Eastern province while the other four provinces namely Copperbelt, Luapula, North-western and Western were funded by Government.

The mapping exercise has been clustered in zones and the first phase is capturing Copperbelt, Eastern, Luapula, North-western and Western Provinces while the next phase will cover Central, Muchinga, Northern and Southern Provinces. And Zamstats Interim Statistician General (ISG) Mulenga Musepa emphasized the importance of carrying out the mapping exercise stating that failing to do so can result in an inaccurate geographic frame that can lead to inaccurate data collection and analysis of census and survey results.

Mr. Musepa disclosed that the national pilot census is expected to take place in the next few months. The ISG has since assured the nation that the Agency is geared to undertake the 2020 census exercise.

Mr. Musepa explained that in total over 40,000 tablets are needed to carry out the 2020 Census exercise. “About 45,000 tablets are needed to carry out the census and so far have 15,025 tablets have been sourced. So we need support in this area, “he said.

Mr Musepa appealed to cooperating partners to help mobilise resources to carry out the National Pilot Census and complete the mapping exercise in the remaining four provinces.

The mapping exercise which is currently underway and ZamStats is working closely with the Provincial Permanent Secretaries and District Commissioners in the 63 districts.  Meanwhile, traditional leaders in the five provinces have welcomed the census mapping exercise in their respective chiefdoms.

However, some chiefs in Eastern Province have appealed to government to ensure telecommunication channels are worked on. The chiefs lamented that some people in some parts of the province do not have access to information due to poor radio and television signals.

Chief Luembe in Nyimba District said some areas in his chiefdom are hard to reach due to bad road network and flooding on the Luangwa River during the rainy season. He named the affected areas as Chikwasha, Mushalila and Mbuluma communities.

And Chief Nyalugwe also of Nyimba district welcomed the move by government to conduct the mapping exercise as it will help to know the population of people in his chiefdom and the country as a whole. He added that the census results will also enable government, stakeholders and traditional leadership know the challenges communities are facing.

Chief Nyalugwe also lamented that telecommunication systems still remains a challenge in his chiefdom and that people have no access to both television and radio signals from community radio stations and the national broadcaster, Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC).

The Chief also complained of poor mobile network connectivity and called on government to consider improving communication channels. He said some areas like Chusi, Nyamalika and Lameck villages can only be reached using water transport to cross the Muswiswi River.

He has since appealed to government to procure a pontoon and build bridges for people to have easy access to the area. The chiefs disclosed this during the publicity activities to sensitise the public on the census mapping and upcoming census in August this year.

The publicity team comprised officers from the Zambia Statistics Agency publicity team working with the Zambia News and Information Services (ZANIS) who conducted mobile public announcements in the five provinces.

The team also worked with the Ministry of Culture and Traditional Affairs (MOCTA) and paid courtesy calls on all the chiefdoms in the 63 districts.

Meanwhile, Chief Jumbe has pledged to work towards enhancing sensitisation to the villages in his chiefdom which has nine (9) Village Action Groups headed by a chairperson who will help with the publicity of the census mapping.

It is important that the citizenry cooperates with Map Data Collectors when they visit their homes by providing them with accurate information to achieve a successful census.