The Zimbabwe Statistical Agency (ZimStat)’s enumerators have faced a number of challenges in the ongoing 10-day National Housing and Population Census.
The problems range from the failure to deliver electronic gadgets (tablets) to enumerators on time, thereby delaying the commencement of the census in some areas, to threats of physical harm to enumerators.
Reports suggest that some enumerators have been harassed by homeowners, particularly in urban areas, with some homeowners setting dogs on enumerators.
In some parts of the country, enumerators walk long distances, crossing flooded rivers to access villages in order to count people.
Zimstat has also failed to provide protective clothing such as raincoats and material enumerators to cover their electronic gadgets from the current wet spell.
The census enumerators have also bemoaned the lack of toilets in some places.
Addressing journalists during a Press conference in Harare on Monday, ZimStats director-general, Taguma Mahonde said:
As the case with many major operations, there are bound to be challenges. We hired vehicles for provinces.
However, there are some challenges we faced because of the rains.
In Matabeleland North and Midlands we have had challenges with flooded rivers.
We managed to deal with those issues although we had to use longer routes to access the areas.
In urban areas network connectivity has not been a challenge and as a result, the data collected has been easy to sync with our servers.
However, when we go to some remote areas connectivity becomes a challenge.
So, what we have received so far isn’t concrete because some enumerators are still trying to sync the data.
He also said the start of the census (on 21 April) coincided with the end of the Easter period when some apostolic sect congregants were away from their homes, thus causing logistical challenges for Zimstat. Said Mahonde:
We had to withdraw our enumerators from the whole of Shamva (for instance, to the Johane Masowe Vadzidzi VaJesu Church gathering in Madziwa Shamva) to enumerate congregants.
The exercise moved to the area the following morning and when we were about to finish there was another gathering nearby.
That was a day lost. That explains the delays in distributing tablets to some areas.
The challenge is that we were just coming from Easter and that’s the time some churches congregated.
Based on data that had been consolidated by ZimStats as at 1500hrs (on day 5) 5 816 396 people and 1 464 050 households had been counted. Said Mahonde:
As of 1500hrs, yesterday 1 456 088 interviews had been successfully completed.
People in 203 buses that were travelling were enumerated on the census night along highways.