THE OVERALL 2012 CENSUS EXECUTION IN TANZANIA
Tanzania’s fourth national census since independence started on August 26. The exercise is carried out every decade and it is an essential part of national development and establishing the number of Tanzanians in the soul of national development planning. The Population and Housing Census yields information that provides crucial raw material for facilitating planning covering economic growth, health service delivery, social welfare improvement, agricultural development, education sector promotion, infrastructure upgrading, investments, and other important areas. It also smoothens the task of deciding how resources should be best allocated.
However, the census has not received universal support. Tanzanians wake up to the knocks of survey takers going from house to house asking “Who slept here last night?” Before the government started to carry out this exercise we heard several members of the community threatening to boycott enumerators, and civilians, religious leaders and village chairmen in various parts of the country demanding not to participate in the census exercise.
In order to evaluate opinions of the census’ implementation among Tanzania’s civil society organizations, Envaya team surveyed several CSO’s, including AWITA, BRIGHTY DESTINY TANZANIA, KINONDONI NETWORK OF PEOPLE WIH HIV, TANZANIA SCIENCE JOURNALIST ASSOCIATION, and WAYETA. The survey was in the form of questionnaires and we interviewed people from all the CSO’s mentioned to know their opinion on the implementation of the 2012 census.
One interviewee who asked to stay anonymous complained that the government did not provide enough awareness for this process. Most Tanzanian citizens are unaware of the meaning and the purpose of being counted, he said, and if civilians were well educated on this matter, all these demonstrations would not happen. He also asked “Have we not been prepared for this occasion for the past decade? How come we have logistical problems regarding timely delivery of the necessary materials, awareness raising and payment of allowances?If we have failed to plan properly to ensure that we get gold-standard outcomes from the census exercise, how sure are we that the results will be put to effective use in the bigger picture of national planning? Had we planned exhaustively for this crucial exercise, would news about these shortcomings be coming up now?”
The interviewee also said that everyone involved in this exercise should play their role in ensuring that we get it right the first time, but that now is not the time for posturing or issuing threats.
Some people perceive the week-long exercise as meaningless, while others acknowledge that it is important, but feel that it is not a top priority issue. They would rather have the resources committed to the census invested in areas they consider more pressing. Yet others dismiss it as a periodic formality that only serves to show that Tanzania’s population is increasing, as if bigger numbers were something to be proud of.
A woman from AWITA said “some people co-operated in facilitating the census success, but either don’t see and feel the benefits, or are beneficiaries who aren’t adequately briefed on the link between the two.” In addition to that, they are updated on how the population grows as the years go by, but, either don’t witness changes in sectors like infrastructure that should be visible and public knowledge, or information on such issues is lacking, or doesn’t flow properly and effectively.
As the authorities announce that the national population and housing census recorded 80 per cent success, the team learnt that in some suburbs there were misunderstandings between the enumerators and the local government leaders. Furthermore, there are cases when local area government leaders, appointed to accompany the enumerators, abandoned the exercise claiming they were not paid allowances.
The houses where the census exercise is completed were marked with a tick. However, a person from Bright Destiny Tanzania (BDT) said that in Manzese most houses were not marked to show they were not visited by the enumerators. Also enumerators found doors of some houses were locked with padlocks to show the occupants were away and there were no signs of children playing around. Some enumerators were chased away by larger knives and bats, and also the enumerators found difficulties introducing themselves to home owners who were apparently concerned with the lack of distinctive uniform. According to the interviewee, lack of uniforms, identity cards, hats, reflectors and bags, identifiable gear and reflective jackets were confusing the people and made them uncooperative.
Most respondents that were interviewed said that the issue of boycotting was caused by lack of census education, and if the government would raise awareness to the citizens on the benefits of census no one would boycott to be counted. A common opinion was that the government should not punish those who boycotted because it is the government’s fault that they did not provide education to them.
Also, interviewees said that there should be an effective involvement of local leaders in the exercise; because enumerators were not native to the areas, therefore many households provided unreliable information to the enumerators due to taboo and norms. The enumerators should be native to the areas and known by most of people over there and be accompanied by indigenous local leaders in order to collect the most reliable information.
One interviewee insisted that “Census plays an important role in laying the foundations of the country’s development, if the government will be giving the census feedback to the citizens we will support the government on this and we’ll distancing ourselves from whoever that doesn't want to be counted.”
One interviewee said, “We see that Muslims have been threatening to boycott the national population and housing census over religious issues. Therefore I advise all religious leaders to educate their followers on the importance of census in any country instead of encouraging them to boycott, because religious leaders are very powerful and influential to their believers.”
The general feeling within the communities we have interviewed is that they need to know more about the importance of a Census count every decade and receive feedback after the census has been conducted so that they can be satisfied with the outcome of the Census. Over the course of the census week we have seen commercials on television and heard them on radio about how important this exercise is. Various local shows have covered this topic and slowly we have come to see what benefits we receive from this census. However it is still not enough, we need more information. Unfortunately some have come to realize a little too late after refusing to be counted. It is up to us as leaders of small and big CSO's and NGO's to demand this information for our community and educate our communities on this exercise and not be too scared to ask the government to provide seminars to educate small and large CSO's and NGO's so we can then educate our communities.
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