By: Nghiinomenwa Erastus
The Namibian nation should not be surprised when budget allocations and other spending options do not talk to their needs because the government is officially now using outdated data.
This would have been resolved in August when the Namibian Statistics Agency conducts the national census for demographics. However, finance minister Ipumbu Shiimi omitted this crucial activity from his recently tabled budget.
Therefore, the country’s policymakers will continue to plan using outdated statistics and estimates as they have not spared some coins to the undertaking of the national census.
According to the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA), the remaining part of the census, which is supposed to take place in the space of five months, will require around N$500 million, according to the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA).
This week, the agency announced that the 2021 Population and Housing Census (PHC) would not take place in August (2022).
This is because “it is not provided for in the national budget of 2022/2023 due to financial constraints and other critical national priorities,” wrote NSA.
A census is conducted every ten years and is essentially collecting, processing, analyzing, publishing, and disseminating demographic, socio-economic, and spatial data of the population during a specific period.
It provides information on how many people are in the country, their characteristics (who they are), and where they live.
The census is the only data source that provides information on minor geographic areas and small population groups.
To be specific, the main objective of a population and housing census is to provide information on the population and housing characteristics of the country, according to NSA.
This is to guide development planning decision-making and monitor and evaluate developmental progress.
A census helps communities get their fair share for schools, hospitals, roads, and public works. It allows the government to decide how to distribute funds and allocate resources across the society.
Not only will outdated statistics guide the country’s planning, but the government is also breaking its laws as Section 7 (2)(d) of the Namibia Statistics Act prescribes that the agency must cause a population and housing census to be taken every 10 years on.
NSA also indicated that it has no idea when the census will take place and promises to return to the public when this information is available from the National Planning Commission.
The 2021 Census was postponed again last year due to competing priorities such as the Covid-19 budget prioritization.
NSA is funded through NPC, for the next financial year, starting next month, the planning entity was only given N$182,8 million- this is not even half of what NSA require for the main census enumeration.
A census is implemented in three main phases, namely the Pre-census activities (2017-2021), Census enumeration (2022), and then the Post-census activities (2022-2025).
If the government does not allocate resources and continues with this cancellation- the country might get its census result in 2026 if it does the census enumeration next year.
However, scrutiny of the government’s Medium-Term Expenditure shows that only N$94,4 million is availed by NPC for subsidies by the department responsible for the timely production of statistics.
SO MUCH HAS BEEN DONE
At this stage, the NSA has completed the Census Mapping, Pilot Census, and Pilot Post-enumeration Survey.
The NSA had recruited 517 unemployed young people to visit and verify 955 037 built-up structures countrywide during the Census Mapping project at the cost of about N$101 million, the entity revealed.
NSA also recruited around 266 young unemployed people to conduct the pilot census and the Pilot Post-enumeration survey.
The NSA has spent around N$137 million to complete the Pre-census activities.
The original census budget estimates for the complete phases, which span from 2017-to 2025, was estimated to be in the region of N$ 1,1 billion.
For the Financial Year of 2022-2023, the main enumeration was initially estimated to cost NSA an amount of N$950 million, where over 11 500 staff will be recruited, over 2 400 vehicles to be hired, and 11 500 tablets to be purchased for the use of data collection during the census.
Although the main enumeration (during 2022-2023) was estimated to be N$950 million, NSA indicated that it adopted measures to further reduce this budget amount to about N$606 million.
The agency wrote early before the budget that there were indications that they would be allocated about N$500 million for the main enumeration phase for the 2022-2023 financial year.
Unfortunately, the treasury and the rest of the government planners have not allocated anything for the census.
The Post-Census phase planned for the 2023-2025 budget is slightly above N$12 million, which is allocated to Census data cleaning, processing, main report, and thematic reports production.
The NSA has received a total funding of N$209, 7 million (N$ 179,4 million from the government via NPC and N$ 30,3 million from other government institutions).
This was towards the census for over two financial years covering Pre-enumeration activities.
NSA indicated that it had spent about N$ 137 million on Pre-enumeration activities.