Guyana’s population has dropped to 747,884, according to preliminary results from the 2012 census and Chief Statistician and Census Officer Lennox Benjamin says the “marginal reduction” was mainly influenced by migration.
Although the latest population figure represents a decline of 3,339 from the 751,223 recorded for 2002, when the previous census was conducted, the results also show a significant drop in the number of persons living in Region Six, which now stands at 109,431, down from 123,695, representing a decline of 14,264.
These were among the revelations made yesterday at the International Conference Centre (ICC), Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara when the Bureau of Statistics released the preliminary report on the Guyana Population and Housing Census 2012. The release of the results came roughly 18 months after enumeration exercise for the census was initiated in September 2012.
Prior to the release of these results the Donald Ramotar administration had come under heavy criticism from observers who argued that it should not take as long as it has to produce the results of the census. In explaining the reason for the time taken to release the results, Benjamin yesterday said that though the actual census was taken in 2012 the verifications process went until June of 2013, after which the analysis of the data commenced.
Addressing criticism during the presentation of government’s proposed budget in April, Finance Minister Ashni Singh had promised that preliminary results from the census would be released later this year.
Officials from the Bureau, after 18 months of analysing the data collected in 2012, signalled yesterday that the final report will not be completed and disseminated until the second quarter of next year.
While the preliminary results include information on changes in population and housing numbers, population density, and male-female ratio, it does not contain numbers on unemployment, underemployment, education, or Guyana’s race ratio. Benjamin told reporters yesterday that this information will be available when the final report is completed next year as there is need for further analysis.
The preliminary report found that the overwhelming majority of Guyana’s population continues to reside on the coastland, however, there was a decrease from 2002, while there was an increase in the hinterland population.
The preliminary revealed that 666, 261 persons or 89.1 per cent of Guyana’s population resides on the coastland—regions 2 (Pomeroon-Supenaam), 3 (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), 4 (Demerara-Mahaica), 5 (Mahaica-Berbice), 6 (East Berbice-Corentyne), and 10 (Upper Berbice-Corentyne).
This figure represents a 2 per cent decrease from the 2002 figure of 679,869.
The hinterland regions—regions 1 (Barima-Waini), 7 (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), 8 (Potaro-Siparuni) and 9 (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo)–support the smaller percentage of the population, pegged at 10.9 per cent or 81,623 persons, but the number represents a 14.39 per cent increase over the 2002 figure of 71,354.
The largest populations were found in regions 4 and 6, which had 313,429 and 109,431 people, respectively. In the case of Region 4 the latest figure represents an increase, up from 310,320 as recorded in the 2002 census, while Region 6’s population fell significantly from 123,695. Region 3 also saw an increase from the 2002 figures, moving from 103,061, to 107,416, while regions 2, 5 and 10 saw decreases.
Among the hinterland regions, Region 1’s population was recorded at 26,941, up from 24,275 in 2002, while the populations of Regions 9 and 7 increased to 24,212 and 20,280, up from 19,387 and 17,597 respectively in 2002.
Meanwhile, Region 8’s population in 2012 was recorded as 10,190, up from 10,095 in 2002. It is believed that increased economic activities in these regions, and especially mining, is responsible for the increases.
The 2012 census also found that Guyana’s overall male-female ratio was almost even. Of Guyana’s total population, 49.8 percent are male, while 50.2 percent are female. Statistics on gender distribution across the regions reveal men outnumber women in the hinterland regions by a ratio of 52.4 per cent to 47.6 per cent, while women outnumber men on the coast by a ratio of 49.5 per cent to 50.5 per cent.
The census also showed that building stocks increased across all ten regions, particularly in Region 4. After Region 4, whose building stocks increased to 86,510 in 2012 from 73,390 in 2002, regions 6 and 3 had the next highest stocks of 35,787 and 35,488, respectively.
In 2002, these figures stood at 34,796 and 26,516, respectively.
There were also noted increases in the number of business places in several regions which, according to the report, is taken to be a reflection of economic growth in those regions. Region 4 was recorded as having 8,745 business places, up from 6,424 in 2002. Regions 3 then 6 have the next highest numbers, with 2,672 and 2,279, respectively, compared with 1,885 and 2,072 in 2002.
Barbara Adams, Deputy Manager of Statistics at the Caricom Secretariat, noted yesterday that the census will help bring along evidence-based decision making. Similar sentiments were echoed by the Finance Minister Singh, who said that the census is and will continue to be an invaluable tool for government as it seeks to develop policies to address the needs of the Guyanese populace.
Meanwhile, Benjamin cited several challenges which faced the Bureau as it went about collecting the data needed for the census. Among those challenges was finding enough personnel to supplement the Bureau’s staff as its normal complement is insufficient to get the job done. Finding personnel with the required skill-set was also a challenge.
Benjamin also said the Bureau’s census takers encountered several impediments, both natural and man-made. The topography of the country, he said, posed several challenges as some areas, particularly the interior regions, required a significant amount of time and resources to penetrate. Census takers were also impeded by gated communities as they were, on some occasions, not allowed to go into some of these communities without some amount of hassle. Even after they gained entry to some of these communities, Benjamin said, the occupants of homes targeted were not home on many occasions and neighbours were not able to render sufficient information on the residents being targeted.
He also noted that the language barrier posed a challenge as there are increasing pockets of people in Guyanese whose first language is not English. He said that the Bureau enlisted the assistance of the Chinese and Brazilian cultural communities to assist where these groups were concerned. These challenges have caused the overall cost, as well as the time needed to complete the exercise, to increase.
As the Bureau prepares for the next census, likely to be held in 2022, Benjamin says several measures are being considered to combat some the previously encountered challenges. Such measures include teaching Bureau employees and other relevant personnel Portuguese and other languages to address the language barrier. He also said there may be need for more stringent legislative measures to deal with those who impede the work of census takers.
The Bureau is also reportedly looking at improving its technological capacity in an effort to make its operations more efficient.