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Preparations for Housing Census in progress

Preparations for Housing Census in progress

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The process of conducting a national census is very costly, and Chief Statistician Gatlin Roberts is pleading with Vincentians to be cooperative, now that the census has to redone.{{more}}

Roberts explained that last year, the National Housing and Population Census was done at an approximate cost of EC$3 million, and to redo it in less than twelve months, the cost will be just about the same.

On October 15, 2011, the second floor of the Financial Complex, on which the census office was located, was destroyed by fire. The fire also destroyed most of the data collected during last year’s census.

Any material which survived the fire, was burnt on October 20, in order to ensure the confidentiality of the information.

Now that the census office is preparing to once more conduct the National Housing and Population Census, Vincentians are again being encouraged to participate.

Roberts told SEARCHLIGHT that she is aware of the uneasiness among Vincentians to redo the census in less than a year, but because of the fire, it must be redone.

“I could well appreciate the way the public feels, but consider how we feel. This is a lot of work that we have put into that process and at the end of the day we really have nothing to show for it.

“A census is very important because it is the basis for further surveys. The information is important for planning purposes. It is important for us to measure where we are ever so often…”

She explained that financing for the census is mostly provided by the government with assistance from donors, and according to Roberts those “donors’ funds are drying up.”

“… The government has to foot the bill. It is a really expensive process for the government and it is really unfortunate that we would have lost the data and we have to be going back to the public again so soon.”

With regard to a date for the start of the new census, Roberts disclosed that there is no set date at present, but plans are to start before June of this year.

Preparations, however, are progressing well according to the Chief Statistician.

She explained that the census committee is presently reviewing the activities of last year to see where improvements can be made.

According to Roberts, some things didn’t go as well as they had planned, so they are trying this time around to improve that.

“We are looking at the questionnaire because last time around, we had a lot of outcry about the questions and the length of the questionnaire.

“While we think that all the information that we are asking on the questionnaire is important, in light of the fact that it is less than a year since the last census, and we couldn’t talk to persons, we are looking to see where we can cut back on the questionnaire, take out some of the questions…”

However, Roberts also revealed that members of the National Census Committee are all in agreement that questions should not be removed from the questionnaire.

“We see all the questions as being relevant and very important, but we are reviewing the process to see how we can make it less burdensome on the respondents,” she added.

In conclusion, Roberts reiterated the importance of the census and urged Vincentians to be understanding and supportive.(AA)

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