THE cost of holding the 2022 Population and Housing Census has shot up by US$13 million, with the additional expenses set to go towards procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for more than 50 000 enumerators.
The Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) will shell out US$98 million in order to hold a Covid-safe census which is slated for April next year.
In addition, ZimStat will only recruit people who have been fully vaccinated to work as enumerators during the census.
In an interview, ZimStat director-general Mr Taguma Mahonde said the Covid-19 pandemic had resulted in an increase in the cost of running the census.
“We have engaged the Public Service Commission because as we move on we need to start recruiting enumerators and other requisite manpower,” said Mr Mahonde.
“We have also started engaging other Ministries to assist with logistics as part of the preparations.
“There is a budget for the whole census, initially we had a budget of US$85 million.
“However, with the advent of Covid-19 we have to factor in costs related to the pandemic and now the budget stands at nearly US$98 million.
“We are looking at a situation where we need to provide sanitisers, masks and other PPEs to our staff and also the enumerators during the actual census.
“We can have something up to 50 000 enumerators and their supervisors.”
ZimStat has already commenced undertaking preparatory work that includes field mapping, which involves partitioning the country into unique enumeration areas.
Nearly 60 percent of the mapping work has been completed.
The census, said Mahonde, should not become a super-spreader event.
“This census, in as far as Covid-19 is concerned, will be different in that more precautions will need to be taken.
“We want to operate under the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines so that the Census does not become a super-spreader of the virus.
“So we want to take precautions and ensure that we don’t worsen the situation, hence the addition of about US$13 million towards this effort.
“As ZimStat, we have put in place measures that everyone working during the census should be vaccinated and definitely, no one will get into the field without being vaccinated. The same rules will also apply in recruiting enumerators who will be moving from one household to another and are potential super-spreaders.”
ZimStat will use a new high-tech data collection system during the census that will likely see the exercise being completed within six months.
The Computer-Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) system will be used to collect data. Previously, it took the national statistics agency up to two years to collect and process data before producing the final census report.
The CAPI system is capable of transmitting data collected by enumerators over the internet to a central mainframe in real-time.
Enumerators traditionally used paper questionnaires to collect data.