Minister of State in President’s Office Relations and Coordination Stephen Wassira has calmed the fears of Muslms who threatened to boycott this year’s national population and housing census unless a clause on religion is included in the exercise scheduled for August 26.
He said the 2012 census remains on course as planned and appealed to all people to fully participate by being available to answer and give accurate information for planning purposes.
“Your cooperation in providing accurate information will make this exercise a success. The census is for us all and we are counting on you because census is for development,” said Wassira.
He said leaders should not mix issues, explaining that census exercise is part of solving administrative matters. He stated that the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the Office of Zanzibar Chief Statistician are the only mandated agents to oversee the exercise which President Jakaya Kikwete declared in his New Year message as a top government priority.
On Monday NBS in Dodoma organised a one day workshop consultative meeting with religious leaders to iron out a misconception that the forthcoming census is tailored to favour a particular religion.
He reminded the clerics about section 19 of the constitution which stipulates that Tanzania is a secular state and favours no particular religion, which is why the clause on religion has been omitted in the census questionnaire.
According to him on the census day, August 26, there will be a big survey to visit households and gathering information and data for every individual that experts will analyse systematically.
The theme of this census “Census for Development, get ready to be counted” is not the usual head count as it will also provide data for policy makers and institutions from reliable sources.
“It will provide opportunity for Tanzania to evaluate itself on how it has faired in attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and its on implementing national programmes related to poverty alleviation.
“Evidence-based decision making is increasingly becoming a paramount best practice which many countries including Tanzania must embrace. It is in this regard that the government has committed itself to ensuring that Census 2012 is successfully carried out as part of the United Nations 2010 Round of Population and Housing Censuses Programme,” he said.
Census is an undertaking bringing on board diverse political, economic and social demands in terms of the resources that have to be deployed to collect the requisite data.
The census will process and disseminate detailed statistics on population size, composition and distribution at small area level unlike in sample surveys which provide data at much higher geographic levels such as national and regional, he said.
In a speech read on his behalf by minister in his office (Union) Samia Suluhu Hassan Vice-President Dr Gharib Bilal emphasised that census is important as it is a major source of information for benchmark data for planning at the national and lower level planning.
“Government needs an accurate count of the population, where they are and what their needs are. This information helps both government and local governments to target resources and services to the people,” Bilal said.
Data helps the government to identify the needs and gaps in development programme, like availability of data on education to help district planners know which sub-country has more schools, safe water sources and appropriately apportion the resource envelop according to need.
The 2012 Census will include questions covering maternal mortality, birth registration, ICT – mobile phone access, people with disability and Tanzanians in Diaspora. Tanzania has carried out four post independence censuses: in 1967, 1978, 1988 and 2002