Editorial - Counting houses - Thursday, April 07, 2011

The census got underway on April 5, with phase one being a counting of houses, hopefully to be completed by April 19. The data gathered in the housing census will form the baseline for the counting of the heads that live in the houses in August or September. This is the sixth time we have counted ourselves since 1951, and the final enumeration is going to be a powerful long-term planning tool. The complexities of such an operation are daunting, more so when the population is disturbed by flood and warfare. A census is not just a headcount, it is a snapshot of a majority of the population at a moment in time from which may be extracted a plethora of information. It answers question like how fast is the population growing. We know it is growing too fast, but we need details to be able to say where it is growing fastest. There are changes going on in our society, particularly in the way in which families live their lives. We are becoming more urbanised, and not everybody lives in a joint family system. How many of our elderly people may need to have care in the future if their families are not looking after them?

The census will also tell us about our young population, where they live and what they are doing with themselves. We will know what the big picture is for education and literacy, and how healthy or unhealthy we are. The housing survey will tell us just how many houses short of our needs we are. It is thought to be about 7.5 million, but the floods will have increased that number. Housing units are being counted this time in a way that will give a more accurate picture – multi-occupancy apartment blocks are to be counted by household rather than as a unitary entity. All of this counting will be done by teams that have – hopefully – been appropriately trained and whose safety in insecure areas will also hopefully be underwritten by the security forces. Each team is tasked to count 700 houses. It is in the interests of all of us that the census proceeds as smoothly as possible, and that once the counting is finished, the government may do something truly innovative and make long-term plans based on objective reality rather than political expediency.

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=40313&Cat=8

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