The national Population and Housing Census kicked off with some hiccups that the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) has said are being dealt with.
Some enumerators labelled the process a financial and logistical nightmare beset by discrimination and disorder.
However, NSA CEO Alex Shimuafeni reported that those who were unsuccessful in the recruitment process have been sending disturbing messages.
During a media briefing in Windhoek yesterday, Shimuafeni said about 13 100 Namibians got employed, but unfortunately, those who demanded work are much more.
“To absorb all this, 110 000 people have a cost implication of getting 110 000 gadgets as well,” he said.
Over 101 009 Namibians applied for 13 000 temporary jobs that were advertised in June for this year’s counting exercise.
It officially started on Monday.
Shimuafeni shared that those who did not get employed threatened not to take part in the census, and intended to inflict injuries on enumerators and also unleash dogs on them.
He, however, warned that all these threats have legal consequences.
Elias Mutota, the deputy inspector general for operations in the Namibian police, appealed to the public to cooperate with enumerators.
Mutota said, “Many become victims of criminal activities during such times. The Namibian Police will, therefore, conduct operations countrywide for a smooth census exercise”.
Jurgen Skrywer (31) from Windhoek Rural constituency stated that he is in a deficit of loans and was promised a deposit by Monday but no funds have been paid yet.
“Since this whole process has started, it is filled with financial and logistical nightmares, especially for us at the grassroots level; there are people who are employed full time, but the terms and conditions say; you shouldn’t be employed,” said the furious Skrywer.
He said those fully employed are inconveniencing those who would have hugely benefitted from this opportunity, some that Skrywer says the NSA must relook with seriousness.
“Some constituencies got catering, while others didn’t at their training; we didn’t get,” continued Skrywer, who stated that he and others only had one day to train how to use the tablet while others got eight days.
He said: “The training was not sufficient enough and the trainees themselves were not even well equipped to the knowledge of what is going on here. It is just a whole lot going on here”.
He wondered how reliable and authentic data would be if those who were using those specific tabs were not properly trained to use them.
Skrywer said: “We don’t even know now if we’re going to be deployed to our designated spots. What are we going to sleep in?”
He stated that the NSA had ample time to get their ducks in a row, and it is unacceptable that they are experiencing these issues – even before the official start of the tally.
The teams will be deployed to their numerous enumeration areas, where they will start with actual enumeration by conducting interviews with individual households and institutions.
From 25 September until 13 October, the teams will be busy with mop-up activities and the actual finalisation of enumeration.
Shimuafeni noted that the NSA was considerate of the marginalised communities, with relaxed requirements to go to the process of training, but he could not trace the total number of the marginalised who are employed for the exercise.
An enumerator, who prefers not to be named, concurred with Skrywer that the census started off on a sour note.
“We were not properly trained on that Capi system of capturing data, and the people who should be answering us are not replying to our queries,” he stated.
“How can they give us one day of training? And the following day, you write a test? We didn’t get full training, and we are dealing with numbers and counting people; you can’t afford to mess around with those figures,” he said.
The NSA has invested in state-of-the-art tablets that will help with data collection, instead of having field workers and residents manually fill in forms.
Enumerators can be identified by a Census identification card, national identification card, yellow/lime bib, a hat and a backpack bearing the Census and Namibia Statistics Agency logos.
Another disappointed hopeful, Beverly Afrikaner, said there was chaos during tests, as people were copying from each other.
“We complained to the leaders but they don’t know things. There is a high rate of unemployment in the country, and when we do complain about these things, we are being threatened left, right and centre,” said Afrikaner, who was unfortunately not chosen, as she did not finish the test on time.
Lifalaza Munsu, the Zambezi census coordinator, stressed the importance of active participation from the Namibian people, as this data will significantly benefit government planning, resource allocation and the overall development of Namibia.
To ensure the public’s confidence in the process, census officials will wear fluorescent jackets, bearing the census and Namibia statistics logos, along with identification cards. Additionally, a website verification system will be available for those who wish to confirm the credentials of the census takers.
“We had a number of people not showing up for training, but that was sorted out, as we replaced them. We were assessing everyone during the training, and we managed to take those who had good grades so they could do the perfect job,” he said.
He encouraged the public to cooperate with data collectors by welcoming them into their homes, ensuring that no one is left uncounted.
Henock Nuuyoma, a team supervisor, expressed enthusiasm on their first day in the field, emphasising their commitment to accuracy and completeness in the data collection process.
“I hope we do not make errors in the field; our goal is to ensure no household is omitted. We are positive that this entire process will proceed smoothly,” he stated.
Meanwhile, both the Omaheke and Otjozondjupa regions set the wheels in motion with the deployment of their respective teams of enumerators to the various constituencies of the two regions.
In Omaheke, the various field teams have already commenced with listing exercises, which include the identification of households, institutions and boundaries. The listing exercise will end on Friday.
“All questions asked during enumeration will relate to the night of 24 September 2023, known as the Census Reference Night. Selected team supervisors and constituency supervisors will enumerate identified special populations, such as travellers, sea workers and the homeless during the Census Reference Night. Community members are urged to provide their full cooperation with the enumerators to ensure that data collected is accurate, reliable and of quality,” said regional council leadership.
In Otjozondjupa, more than 866 team members were deployed to all seven constituencies of the region.
Census spokesperson in the region, Cornelia Shikongo, said 866 officials were successfully deployed, noting that 226 were team supervisors and 640 Census enumerators.
“Some of the deployed officials already started with the listing process, where they had to identify targeted dwelling units and various institutions for this exercise. The officials will also carry Census fieldwork identification cards and a letter of authorisation to collect information from the households,” she said.
“The information being collected will be kept confidential, as it is vital for development planning purposes. This information will give regional and national development planners an accurate picture of how many people live in the county, their living conditions and their access to basic services so that resources needed for healthcare programmes, education, housing and transport can be distributed properly, added Shikongo.