The National Statistical Office (NSO) has extended the Population and Housing Census (PHC) to tomorrow to allow households that have not been counted to do so.
Commissioner of statistics Mercy Kanyuka said this yesterday at a press briefing in Blantyre on the status of the PHC.
The census, which has seen the NSO migrating from the paper-based questionnaire to computer assisted personal interview (Capi) data collection system, started on September 3 and was expected to end on September 23.
But Kanyuka said the exercise has been a success, with about 99 percent of the census work being completed.
Said Kanyuka: “So far, the enumeration has been completed in almost all the districts [but] we have not completed the exercise in very few districts because of the delayed commencement due to boundary wrangles among traditional leaders, but this was sorted out.
“The increased call backs was another challenge, where respondents could not be found on the first visit and the enumerators had to return to such households. We will complete enumeration this week.”
She stressed that delays in payment of training and field allowances for enumerators and supervisors as well as in delivery of census bags and T-shirts, which compelled some officers threaten to damage their equipment or to go on strike, were the exercise’s main challenge.
The commissioner faulted enumerators and supervisors for the delay in allowance payments, saying some field staff provided wrong bank account details.
“When we transacted with 10 banks we engaged in the census, the NSO noted that some payments were returned due to incorrect bank accounts. For example, the total initial amount returned to NSO was K1 826 290 000. My office, therefore, worked with field supervisors to address this challenge. To date, K102 040 00 still stands which has affected 1 275 out of the 25 000 field staff,” Kanyuka said.
But in an interview yesterday, one of the enumerators in Blantyre Patricia Mkwapatira argued NSO was not well prepared for the exercise.
She said: “The exercise had many challenges. They [NSO] shouldn’t blame us. How can 1 275 enumerators give wrong bank account details? Why were all enumerators affected? The truth of the matter is that they were not well prepared. Even the battery for the tablet I was given doesn’t last two hours,”
NSO recruited 25 000 field workers to collect data on, population of people, composition, characteristics, spatial distribution, housing and family and household and organisations.
NSO is expected to release its preliminary report in December this year before releasing its final report in April 2019.
Malawi first conducted PHC in 1966 soon after independence. Other censuses were conducted in 1977, 1987, 1998, and in 2008.
This year’s census has been supported by USAid, Norwegian Embassy, UKAid, United Nations, Irish Aid UNFPA and Standard Bank. n