In 2021, Namibia will hold its 4th Population and Housing Census. The census is better known for counting people; however, the statistics that a population and housing census provides is much more than just counting people. Namibia’s first census was held in 1991, the second in 2001, the third in 2011 and the next one to be held in 2021, as indicated above.
A Population and Housing Census undertaking is among one of the most complex, massive and expensive peacetime data collection exercises for any country and it requires the mobilization of the entire national stakeholders to be partners of such a huge exercise. It is against that background that the NSA wants to play their part and ensure that it does not only sit around waiting for government to provide it with funds; but to also go out of its own ways to assist mobilise resources for this enormous undertaking.
The aim of the Census Resource Mobilisation Conference (CRMC) hence is to mobilize technical and financial resources from different stakeholders that have a direct interest in the census statistics; such as government offices, line ministries, agencies, private sector, the business community and development partners through pledges to cover the shortfall of the 2021 Census.
One might ask whether, considering the massive costs involved, it is even necessary and important for the country to conduct a census. There is no doubt that information is required for sound planning and decision making. Imagine, for example, we are planning the development of the country, in terms of where we build schools, clinics, where we provide water and electricity etc., all based on data from 1990; that would surely mean that we are not only doing a disservice to ourselves but also wasting precious resources because the information used to plan is outdated.
I am sure you will agree with me if I say things have changed over the past 30 years. A dominant development indicator, such as rural and urban migration, clearly shows that the planning has to change. For example, at independence a good 70% of the population lived in the urban areas; however, the current trend is that by the year 2030 we shall have a population where the majority of people will be living in the urban areas. Such requires adequate planning in order to provide services to the nation.
One might want to know where the funds for the census will be spent. We should remember that Namibia is a vast country with a small population scattered all over the country. Since we will have to enumerate each and every household, it will require us to reach all corners of the country even if we only find few people there. The census is also going completely digital and will be spatially enabled. This just means that we do away with paper questionnaires and will ensure that we add geographic points to all the statistics that we shall collect. Such an exercise will enable the planners to use latest data for development. Namibia will surely be the winner in this exercise.
*Iipumbu Sakaria is the Manager of Corporate Communication at the NSA