Statistics South Africa ignites plan to count the entire population during Census 2021

Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) staff will be in the field conducting the Census 2021 Mini Test from 9 October to 6 November 2019 in selected areas around the country. Fieldworkers will visit households in Buffalo City, Ekurhuleni, Mangaung, Umgungudlovu, Polokwane, Emalahleni, Kimberley, Rustenburg and Cape Town.

The purpose of the Census 2021 Mini Test is to test data collection methods, questionnaire and operation systems to prepare for the population census that will be conducted in 2021. Data collected in a census is used by government and other sectors of society for planning and decision making, including the allocation of government funds to provinces and municipalities. It is crucial for all households to participate as, in so doing, they will ensure that the country has the correct numbers needed for planning and implementation of programmes and policies. Population censuses are the key source of small-area data about the population and the socio-economic dynamics in the country.

Census 2021 will be the first population count to use new methods of data collection that involve the use of digital devices. Fieldworkers will administer the census questionnaire face to face with respondents using the Computer Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI), i.e. capturing the information on a digital device rather than a paper questionnaire and, where applicable, the option of Computer Assisted Web Interview (CAWI), whereby a respondent completes the questionnaire via the web, may be used.

As part of Stats SA’s quality assessment processes, an independent survey called the Post Enumeration Survey (PES) will be conducted after the Census 2021 Mini Test data collection. The Census 2021 Mini Test PES will be conducted from 14 November 2019 to 13 December 2019 in order to evaluate the quality of the Census 2021 Mini Test. PES field workers will visit dwellings in selected areas to administer a PES questionnaire. Households may be re-visited from 20 January to 14 February 2020 to obtain missing or additional information.

The base for any census is an updated list of structures (the Geospatial Information Frame, or GIF), which is sub-divided into workloads called Enumeration Areas, which guide field staff about the dwellings they should visit during the data collection period. Frame Update field staff are already in the field working across the country to ensure that an updated, comprehensive list of structures is available for Census 2021.

Stats SA fieldworkers can be identified through the official Stats SA Identification (ID) Card displaying the Stats SA logo, the photograph and unique number of the fieldworker. Respondents can also contact the Census 2021 Toll-free number (0800 110 248) to verify the fieldworkers visiting their homes. Once the appointment of field staff has been finalised, an online system will go live whereby respondents will be able to click on a link on the Stats SA website for online verification of Census 2021 field staff.

Stats SA is mandated by the Statistics Act (Act No. 6 of 1999) to collect, analyse and disseminate official statistics. In terms of section 17 of the Act, information collected on individuals and their households remains confidential. The Act also obligates all persons to provide data to any Stats SA official, when requested.