Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe has challenged the National Statistics Office (NSO) to produce credible results from the 2018 Population and Housing Census.
He made the remarks yesterday in Zomba during the handover of 15 000 tablets and power banks to be used during the exercise.
The gadgets, valued at $2 353 207.35 (about K1.7 billion), have been procured by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID) with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Gondwe said this year’s census is historical for the country because, for the first time, Malawi will use tablets to collect data instead of the traditional paper-based questionnaires.
He said: “Therefore, we challenge NSO to ensure that numerators are responsible in data collection as the results of the exercise will be used to formulate government policies, plan development initiatives and guide in allocating various social services accordingly.”
In response, commissioner of statistics Mercy Kanyuka assured that NSO is ready to roll out the exercise as it successfully completed a mapping exercise in October 2017 where they demarcated the country into 40 census districts and 20 000 enumeration areas.
“Since we have migrated from paper questionnaires to tablets, we needed 20 000, [tablets] therefore, these tablets will complement the 5 000 tablets that the Malawi Government procured earlier for the same cause,” she said.
In his remarks, DfID country representative to Malawi David Beer said without census data, those most in need will remain uncounted and left behind.
“The benefits the tablets will bring to the census are huge. We expect to see more accurate completion of questionnaires, real time monitoring of enumeration activities and faster, more cost-effective data capture and processing unlike the previous paper forms,” he said.
UNFPA country representative Won Young Hong urged NSO to keep the tablets and the other accessories secure to avoid damage or loss during and after the census.