Some Zimbabweans are baffled by the questions being asked by enumerators in the ongoing 2022 National Housing and Population Census.
In previous censuses, questions on employment and access to water and electricity have featured but this year people are being asked about the type of floors in their homes, what they use for cooking, physical disabilities, education levels, where they were living 10 years ago, among other “weird” questions.
According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat), apart from counting people, a census is also used to find out more about Zimbabweans and how they live.
Thus, factors such as unemployment, access to basic services, or people’s standards of living need to be captured on the census questionnaire. Zimstat spokesperson Mercy Chidemo said:
Our questionnaire has several modules. There is a demography module, functionality, immigration, mortality, education, labour force and housing characteristics.
Speaking in an interview with ZimFact, Tinofa Mutevedzi, a demographer and population health specialist said Zimstat enumerators will ask questions about the type of floor or roof at your house, what you use for washing, personal hygiene, or what energy source the family uses for cooking.
She said these questions generate important data on the standard of living and access to basic services. Added Mutevedzi:
Those questions are found in all censuses in the developing world to measure access to basic services; a) energy source (lighting and cooking), water (tap, borehole or open well/river), and housing, such as the type of building including walls, roof and floor types.
In South Africa, a census questionnaire also asks about “construction material of outer walls, floor, roof”.
This, according to Stats SA, “identifies standards of living/peoples’ welfare,” and the “information (is) to be used in generating economic and social indicators.”
Meanwhile, Zimstat director-general Taguma Mahonde assured the public that all information they give to enumerators will be treated with the utmost confidentiality. He said:
Please note that in line with the Census and Statistics Act, all information collected during the population housing census enumeration exercise is confidential and will be used for statistical purposes only.
The 2022 National Housing and Population Census commenced on 21 April and is expected to be concluded on 30 April.