While the first phase of the national population census came to a formal close last Friday, preliminary results may not be known until late September as the Guyana Bureau of Statistics (GBS) is still asking persons not registered to call the agency to ensure they are counted.
“We will be closing our work in the areas tomorrow [Friday] but we still are encouraging any individual out there, who is unaware, who claims they have not been enumerated, to make contact with the bureau and we will on a one-on-one basis make rechecks with that household and have that household enumerated,” Chief Statistician Lennox Benjamin told Stabroek News on Thursday last. The GBS Hotline number is 231-2469.
A date of September 2013 was given for the preliminary count of the number of persons residing in Guyana, while the detailed analysis would be ready some time in 2014.
Benjamin noted that one setback of this year’s census was that persons, especially those who reside in new housing schemes, were hardly ever at home during the weekdays when enumerators visited. However, he said that this was partially corrected when enumerators were advised to use weekends as their visitation period.
Benjamin said while there were some setbacks, with logistics being the most troublesome, he was positive that the result will show the true demographics of the Guyanese populace. “We had said our initial time frame would be approximately 6 weeks …we were probably were too premature in that regard because even though we know it can be done one of the realities that is brought home by the census is the vastness of Guyana and that our coastland is not representative of Guyana,” he said.
“We had instances where we left Georgetown in brilliant sunshine and we went into the interior with heavy storms and mud. At the end of the initial 6 weeks only 80 per cent of the work was completed and we extended it to November and then had to say again we will go to completion. What we can say now… is that we have 99.2 % of the EDs and the remaining .8 percent is in the hinterland,” he added.
One factor for the delay Benjamin explained was the premature exit of some of the enumerators a short while into the collection of data activity. “What happened within the first month of the activities is you had those persons who opted out… those who found the work more challenging than they expected even though at the training we had laid out quite comprehensively what are the challenges of enumeration,” he said.
The main reason given by the persons who left, he said, was that they had to deal with “difficult persons” who were adamant in their stance not to participate. He said that even some of the supervisors would have failed in converting the persons and it was staff from the bureau who had to accompany them to finally gain cooperation. This situation he stated was not limited to Guyana but was a complaint received in all Caricom countries.
Some persons had complained about slothfulness when seeking payment for their work. To this, the Chief Statistician said that patience was all that was required. “As we come to a closure, in terms of our field work, as with any census we check the work that has been submitted; we are obligated and will send back in our own perm staff to do any rechecks. Some media houses carried stories about persons complaining they haven’t been paid. We made the point that we contracted persons to work and we will pay on the basis of work completed as expected,” he said.
“We have started payments we paid a lot through December and as Christmas approached persons would have been anxious to be paid. It is not the payment per se we were paying after the supervisors and the area coordinators said to us that ‘these people submitted their work. We have checked it and its okay and you can pay’ against ‘I have completed my work pay me.’ We pay on the advice of the supervisors,” he added.
The last census, in 2002, found that the country had a population of 751,223. Although the last census found a population increase between 1991 and 2002, it paled in comparison with the births during the same period, supporting conclusions that migration had been the key setback to the population’s growth rate.