24 February | 2024

Lahore, Pakistan

CSJ points out gaps in digital census, hails provision of helpline

Wajahat Masood, Peter Jacob say enumerators facing difficulties, as majority of population appears to be unaware of census process

LAHORE: Center for Social Justice (CSJ) Chairman Wajahat Masood, and Executive Director Peter Jacob called the attention of the government, especially the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), regarding complications found in the first digital census across Pakistan.

Pakistan launched its first-ever digital population and housing census in an effort to securely gather demographic data on every individual ahead of this year’s parliamentary elections. The digital count will provide data for policy decisions, which now are based on the 2017 census that counted the population at 207 million people.

In a joint statement, they observed that the field operation of census had confronted obstacles. The statement appreciated the positive developments such as provision of helpline to assist and resolve complaints related to the census. However, due to a lack of information and trust, the public response to the census teams was not encouraging.

They said that a majority of the population appears to be unaware of the census process. Hence, they said that the enumerators were facing difficulties. The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics is also actively updating its social media platforms but less in the mainstream media.

Peter Jacob says Center for Social Justice shared recommendations with Bureau of Statistics to ensure census process

Referring to media reports, the statement underlined the manifestation of lack of preparation, training of field enumerators, and insufficient staff. The observation by the civil society organizations of the census process shows that the enumerators were also facing issues in finding locations on tablets for houses to be geo-tagged.

The staff complained about insufficient payments to carry out their duties in the field which impacted work. The authorities should ensure the funds are disbursed immediately to avoid delays. Given recent attacks on the census teams in Dera Ismail Khan and Swabi, security needs to be beefed up, they said.

In his statement, Peter Jacob observed that his organization shared recommendations with the Bureau of Statistics to ensure the census process is, participatory, transparent, and inclusive of all beings. “As the count is being conducted with limited resources, Bureau of Statistics must ensure that the above-mentioned issues must be addressed immediately to help in building trust in the system and the final results,” he said.