Census is vital but needs the public’s help [Archives:2004/786/Community]

November 1 2004

By Shaker Al-Molsi
Yemen Times Staff

Social, cultural and economic development is the main concern of the Third World, to catch up with the countries of the northern hemisphere. Therefore, basic services are vital being a reflection on the living standard of a society. They bolster investment and develop human resources. But we cannot know the amount of services and amenities the society has without a census.

Why census?
Census is the process of collecting demographic and social data of people residing in a particular country during a specific period. The census will count individual persons, establishments and enterprises. The purpose of the census is to come out with information on numbers of school-age students and their distribution in urban and rural areas, for example, and those who require certain services. Censuses give indicators about basic services and their coverage: rate of asphalt roads, telephone lines, postal services, etc. Then, the assigned governmental bodies are supposed to make use of the information in arranging priorities of projection.
For the census to succeed, people should be aware of its importance for the whole country. Official and private media means are responsible for intensively educating the whole community on their vital role in the process.

A false notion
There is some sort of misunderstanding on the part of some people who feel that their privacy is encroached on if they give out some of their personal data. On the contrary, they should pride themselves on such an act, for it is in their sole interest to provide the census operators of the needed information. It is out of ignorance when they withhold, for instance, the true number of their children.
Due to lack of awareness, the 1994 census results were not accurate enough, the fact which has had its own negative effects on Yemen. The government has been using a database that does not actually reflect what is there.

December 16, 17
A huge budget has been allotted to the census. The Central Statistical Organization (CSO) has been conducting a series of activities including training courses for information collectors and dividing areas into blocks. The CSO will conduct the General Population Housing and Establishment Census in all governorates of Yemen on December 16/17. About 25,000 applicants to the Civil Service Ministry will take part in the event. These efforts and expenditure will not yield fruit if citizens don't react positively and help make the census successful. They must know that their reservedness will exacerbate the situation, leading to ill-studied development plans and, therefore, hard economic and social conditions.