The Importance of Census

Why is it important to conduct a population census?

The most important aspect in any society is human capital. Census is important because this process helps compile a numerical profile of South Africa. This in turn informs decision-making at all levels both in government and the private sector. A population census is a total count of the country’s population, where demographic, social and economic information, as well as information about the housing conditions of the people who live in South Africa is gathered. This information could, for example, be applied by the agricultural industry for business planning purposes – if you know the number and spread of your consumers, you will know how to plan for the distribution of your product.

What kind of information will be gathered during the census?

The short answer is that information about who you are and your living conditions will be collected. Information will be collected to determine the number of people living in SA; who we are in terms of age, sex, education, occupation, economic activity and other important characteristics. Information about where we live in terms of housing, access to water and the availability of essential facilities will also be collected.

When will Census 2011 be held and for how long does the survey run?

The survey starts on the night of the 9th waking up on October 10th, 2011, which will be the official date for reflecting the data. However, due to the enormity of the survey, the data collection period will run from October 10 to 31 2011.
The listing process has already started and once the survey is completed, there will be a mop-up period. This period will be used to revisit households that were not reached during the data collection phase. This will ensure that we reach as many households as possible.

Why are there already people from Stats SA knocking on doors for census if the survey only starts on October 10?

The actual survey starts in October, but to ensure a successful survey work started many months ago. The country was divided into smaller areas called Enumeration Areas. These have to be mapped so that the fieldworkers who collect your data in October know where to go. Statistics South Africa has also been running “dress rehearsals” so that the process of conducting the count runs smoothly.

How can people be sure that they are being visited by Stats SA employees?

All Statistics South Africa personnel will be carrying an ID card. The fieldworkers will also be wearing yellow Census T-shirts and bibs. You can also contact the Census 2011 call centre – 0800 110 248 – to verify fieldworkers’ credentials.

What guarantee do I have that my information will be kept confidential?

According to the Statistics Act of 1999 the Statistician-General must ensure that a census takes place on a regular basis. However, the Act also guarantees strict confidentiality of all information collected for statistical purposes. The Act says “The results of the compilation and analysis of the statistical information collected in terms of this Act may not be published or disseminated in a manner which is likely to enable the identification of a specific individual, business or other organisation.”
All Stats SA employees are legally bound, by signing an Oath of Confidentiality, never to disclose any information gathered in the course of their duties. This oath still applies, even after their employment with Stats SA ceases.
While Stats SA asks for the respondents’ full names and records physical addresses of the dwellings, this is done only for quality-check purposes. This information is never given out, not even to other government agencies.  You are furthermore protected by the Promotion of Access to Information Act and the Constitution.
Employees who do not adhere to the Statistics Act could face a fine of R10 000 and/or six months’ imprisonment.