Support needed for next census

Editorial

CABINET has declared July 12, 2020, as the census night.
This means, all counting for the census will be centred on the night of July 12.
Many call it the defector census, a reference night.
Census officials will collect key characteristic data on every person in Papua New Guinea, and the place they are staying in, on July 12.
Census is the largest statistical collection undertaken aimed to connect with every person in PNG and collect information about them and the place they are staying (houses, apartments, hotels, hospitals, villages).
The census also collects information about those houses, townhouses, apartments, etc that have no people in them on census night so these can be included in the overall count of dwellings.
The population and housing census was the biggest peacetime operation conducted every 10 years. The first four were held in 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2011.
A lot has changed in the social, economic and demographic landscape of the county.
The 2011 census recorded 7.1 million as the total population.
Census 2020 would help establish statistics for its population moving forward into the next 10 years.
About 39 per cent of the population live in the Highlands, followed by Mamose with 26 per cent while Southern and Island regions make up 20 per cent and 15 per cent respectively.
The annual growth for PNG has increased steadily from 2.2 per cent in 1980 and currently stands at 3.1 per cent.
The Highlands and Islands have annual growth higher than the national average.
Sex ratio (number of males to every 100 females) has remained steady at 108 as reported in the last census.
Likewise, the household size is 5.3 persons, a slight increase from 5.2 reported in 2000 Census.
Of the 22 provinces, Morobe alone contains almost 9.3 per cent of the country’s total population, reporting a total population count of 674, 810 person in 2011 Census.
Eastern Highlands and the Southern Highlands (minus Hela) are the other two most populated provinces with population in excess of half a million.
Significant increase in population is noted mostly for provinces in the Highlands and Islands. However this is not the case for the provinces in Mamose where population growth rate is comparatively lower.
Since 1980, the population of PNG has more than doubled from 3 million to 7.3 million in a matter of 31 years.
Our planning and the distribution of services in the past 10 years have been challenged because of changing social and economic and demographic factors.
The growth rate has always been a concern. Some say the generation is witnessing the greatest demographic transition.
There is mounting concern over corresponding rising unemployment and depleting per capita income
Our country cannot rely on statistics from past census. We must on par with the current population and housing statistics to enable the Government to make informed decision.
There is no reliable statistics and data available in the country. And the tools to collect remains a big weakness in PNG.
Let’s say, trade data collection is vital because the country needs to know exactly what type of goods and the volumes there of, products, are being traded and with which countries.
Statistics, data and trends should not just chart the changes that occur over a certain period of time but should be continually updated and made relevant for the times.
The National Census is overdue and it must be supported by all concerned, otherwise the government might not be able to provide for all.

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