LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-The United Nations (UN) on Wednesday said the government’s efforts to address growing inequalities, especially among the poor, will largely depend on reliable population statistics from the forthcoming 2018 Population and Housing Census.

Speaking on behalf of the UN at the launch of the census publicity and countdown campaign in Lilongwe on Wednesday, UN Women Country Representative, Clara Anyangwe, said, without accurate data, policymakers do not know where to invest in schools, hospitals and roads.

Anyangwe said, as the Malawi Vision 2020 expires in less than two years’ time, the 2018 census presents Malawi with a great opportunity to update its vision or create a new vision that is informed by reliable national statistics.

“We are all aware that a census is among the most complex and massive peacetime exercises a nation undertakes. It does not merely count people; it also measures fertility, mortality and movement, helping to predict demographic trends. And it can uncover inequalities in employment, education and wealth.

“Therefore, government’s efforts to address growing inequalities, especially among the poor, will largely depend on this data,” Anyangwe said as quoted by the Daily Times.

The National Statistical Office (NSO) needs about MK14.6 billion but currently has about K13.2 billion for the September activity and the UN expressed hope that more development partners would come on board to fill the budget gap.

Finance, Economic Planning and Development Minister, Goodall Gondwe, said precise data is crucial in development planning, adding that the government is confident that NSO will do a good job in the exercise to be conducted under the theme ‘Be counted – Leave No One Behind’.

Gondwe said it is important to prepare people on the questions that will be asked for them to be cooperative.

“There are some questions which will need people’s honest answers if our data is to help us make right decisions,” Gondwe said.

Commissioner of Statistics, Mercy Kanyuka, said the main aim of census communication and publicity campaign is to sensitise the public to the purpose of the census and to ensure the cooperation of people in providing complete and accurate data.

“A well-planned publicity campaign is essential to create a favourable environment for the collection of census data,” Kanyuka said.

She also said several aspects of communication have been considered and special attention has been paid to areas with cultural problems such as the existence of bloodsucking myths.

NSO is expected to employ 20,000 enumerators and 5,000 supervisors for the exercise, which will use handheld electronic gadgets, including tablets, in capturing of data.

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