Friday, August 19, 2022

Zambia

Members of the public assured of privacy of their information during the census period

Prof. Jacob Malungo assures members of the public that their information will be protected during the forthcoming Population and Housing Census as the Enumerators take an Oath of Secrecy.

Prof. Jacob Malungo who is DEAN School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Zambia (UNZA) stated that there must be no iota of doubt that peoples’ private lives will be actually exposed by the Census Enumerators to anybody.

Prof. Malungo added that the sharing of information with the Census Enumerators is very critical as this will help the government in the planning process and decision-making for the next budget in aligning where resources need to be allocated in each sector.

“For example, in health, education, agriculture, fight against HIV and COVID-19 and how many people are involved in this fight,” he said

“Let’s just take it easy and give out as much information as we can,” he said

Prof. Malungo noted that the people conducting the census take an oath that enables them to keep secrets of every information that they collect from people, as a way of respecting their privacy.

“The Oath of Secrecy means that the information that will be obtained will not be shared not even with relatives nor others,” he said

He explained that the Oath of Secrecy is an element that is so critical as it is conducted by the Commissioner at the Magistrate Court or any relevant office depending on what is being dealt with.

Prof. Malungo explained that everyone is safe, their privacy is safe and if for instance one is asked by the Enumerator about how many sexual partners they have, and they say they have two to four partners, and even if they ask one about their health status such as HIV Status, even if this information is documented by the Enumerators, it is actually protected by the Oath of Secrecy.

He cited that in order to understand the socio-economic dynamics of the people as well as their characteristics in terms of age, sex, marital status, education, occupation and generally the health elements will be part of the questions that will be asked as this will also help to determine the situation of that person at household level, for instance if there are any deaths and cause in the family, such elements are critical as they help to understand issues of mobility or death.

“If someone (enumerator) shares your information, they are liable for prosecution,” he noted

Prof. Malungo highlighted that Chapter 127 of the Census and Statistics Act ideally states that every person is mandated to be counted or its mandatory to be counted and therefore, people are expected to be compliant with the Enumerators as they will be looking at the basic things of an individual, household, occupation, and what people are doing for the betterment of their livelihood, hence it’s very important for every individual to be counted as census an important element for socio-economic development of a country.

He mentioned that the census should be viewed as the whole process of collecting, compiling, analysing, evaluating and publishing the data which has to do with people, economics, and the social fabric of the society and communities.

Prof. Malungo explained that without census, there would be no data, numbers, and information and without these there wouldn’t be any decision-making process, which means that when for instance, the government is employing like they did with phenomenal figures of 30,000 plus teachers and 11,000 plus health workers, the health workers have to be distributed in places with high maternal mortality rates, while the teachers would be deployed in areas with a lot of schools.

“This census data can also be used to determine where supermarkets can be set up and Banking services can establish their branches in order to have efficacy and profitability and in terms of hospitals where do we find a referral center and for what disease because census should give us an understanding of the premiered diseases that are prevalent in a given area, so that we plan,” he said

He added that in terms of occupation or employment, the census should help us find out which economic activity is important in a country, for example which one is likeable and which one has got skillful people to move in.

Prof. Malungo noted that the aptitude test is an important element that is used to try and ascertain the competence of those who will be picked as Enumerators, if they can successfully conduct interviews.

He added that this census is unique in that tablets will be used because of the digital era, which means that the Enumerators will not be necessarily using questionnaires as it has been done traditionally over the years, and using tablets means that information will be entered as questions are being asked which will make the work easier and faster as data will be entered instantly, and disseminated in real time for planning purposes.

Prof. Jacob Malungo who is also the DEAN in the Department of Demography highlighted this when he made an appearance on ZNBC TV 2 Morning Live Show.

The Zambia Statistics Agency (ZamStats) will be conducting the 6th Population and Housing Census from August 18th to September 14th 2022.

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