Public asked to co-operate in August census

Statistics Botswana, the government body spearheading preparations for the forthcoming population census, have emphasized that the success of the project will depend very much on the support of the general public.

Getting the message out last week as part of the Population and Housing Census Publicity Day held at Tonota and Francistown, officials reassured audiences that information gathered would be treated as highly confidential.

Under the banner, ‘My Count, a Guide to Development,’ they were at pains to point out that information gathered from the 2011 population and housing census were not just of statistical value, but played a very real part in development planning. The questions asked were not meant to annoy people, but to collect vital data.

The objective of the census as explained in the official handout is ‘to count all persons living in Botswana and determine the socio-economic and demographic characteristics of the population.’

For his part District Census Officer Isaac Koogotsitse assured the public that the information gathered would remain confidential and would only be used to compile data for use in planning. In reassuring those who may be tempted to conceal information he said: “We appeal to illegal migrants not to hide when they see us. Our job is to count the population not arrest them. There is a need to know how many we are in our country and the number of those who visit us.

“The main census question asks to ‘give the name of all persons who spent the previous night here,’ so please just feel free to answer that honestly. The information is between you and the officer, and we have no right to expose it,” said Koogotsitse.

He went on to appeal to the nation to protect enumerators from abuse, because with difficulties of transport officers were often out after dark, and in the past incidents of rape had been reported. He also asked dog owners to keep their animals on a leash as dog bites were another hazard officers often faced.  He said that all census officials would be wearing official census t-shirts, carrying yellow bags with the census logo, and would be able to produce identity cards as well as an authentic letter of appointment.

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