C A R I B B E A N C O M M U N I T Y S E C R E T A R I A T
THIRTEENTH MEETING OF THE REGIONAL RESTRICTED
CENSUS COORDINATING COMMITTEE RCCC/2005/13/2
24-25 October 2005 18 October 2005
REPORT ON THE CARICOM POPULATION AND HOUSING CENSUS SYMPOSIUM, NASSAU, THE BAHAMAS, 16-17 SEPTEMBER 2005
Please see attached, Paper entitled Report on the CARICOM Population and Housing Census Symposium, Nassau, The Bahamas, 16-17 September 2005.
CARICOM POPULATION AND HOUSING CENSUS SYMPOSIUM
CHAIRPERSON DATE OF VENUE
Ms. Valerie Nam 16-17 September 2005
Director Nassau, The Bahamas
Census Demographic and
Statistical Institute of Jamaica
The CARICOM Population and Housing Census (PHC) Symposium was held on 16 to 17 September 2005 at the Windham Nassau Resort Hotel and Casino, Nassau, The Bahamas.
Following the singing of the National Anthem and an opening prayer, the Director of The Bahamas Department of Statistics, Mr. Charles Stuart warmly welcomed Delegates to the Forum and to The Bahamas.
Mr. Sylvan Roberts, Deputy Programme Manager, Statistics, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat made some opening remarks. He extended greetings on behalf of the CARICOM Secretariat and conveyed to the Government and people of The Bahamas their heartfelt appreciation on the occasion of The Bahamas hosting of this historic meeting. Mr. Roberts informed the gathering that the meeting was historic since it is the first of its kind but also since this is the first time in the history of census taking that the preparations and planning for this massive exercise are beginning so early. This is crucial for the ultimate success of the project. He then reminded the meeting of the many important uses of census data, stating that the PHC provides a 'goldmine of information that can never be over-exhausted'. He used the opportunity to call on the international partners in development to offer their full support in order to maximise the success of the PHC.
In his remarks declaring the forum open, the Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Michael Halkitis also welcomed the participants and extended greetings on behalf of the government and people of The
Bahamas. The honourable gentleman reiterated the growing importance of accurate and timely statistics of a broad scope that can come from a census. He congratulated CARICOM for such an early start in the planning process for the 2010 round of PHCs. He pledged his full support to the process.
The Opening Ceremony also featured choral renditions by "Friends 4 Life", a very popular local entertainment group.
Mrs. Kelsie Dorsett moved the Vote of Thanks.
ELECTION OF CHAIRMAN
Mrs. Valerie Nam, Director of Censuses of the Statistical Institute of Jamaica was elected as Chairperson of the Symposium.
3. ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA
The Agenda as adopted by the Meeting is at Annex II to this Report.
The meeting determined its hours of work.
OVERVIEW OF THE CENSUS SYMPOSIUM - BACKGROUND,
OBJECTIVES, EXPECTED OUTPUTS, INTERNATIONAL
CONTEXT OF 2010 GLOBAL CENSUS PROGRAMME
The first two presentations were delivered by the Secretariat and UNSD representatives, respectively. The Secretariat representative's presentation introduced the background, objectives and expected outputs of the Meeting. The objectives of the Census Symposium were:
to provide a forum to discuss the experiences of the 2000 Round of Population and Housing Censuses, with regard to problems, challenges and best practices encountered;
The forum also usefully discussed post-enumeration activities including Processing of the Data and Analysis and Dissemination of the results;
It is expected that the Symposium will also lead to the early addressing of issues with respect to the planning for the forthcoming Census decade 2010 by Member States, as well as the institution of effective regional support and a continuous programme of Population related research and analysis;
The Symposium also helped to facilitate the identification of elements of a strategy that is cost-effective and that can enable the building of capacity in the CARICOM Region with respect to the management and conduct of Censuses and in the analysis and wider utilisation of the Census results.
Among the outputs, the Meeting was informed that a framework for a regional strategy would be formulated. The Meeting was also informed that the model used in the 1990 Round of Population and Housing Censuses and which was partially adopted in the 2000 Round would again be adapted to the current circumstances. The RCCC will continue to coordinate activities at the regional level via a Project Implementation Unit that will be established at the CARICOM Secretariat.
The UNSD's presentation focused on the status of the planning for the 2010 Global Census Programme. The UNSD representative reported that an Expert Group had been formed and met during August 2005. The immediate Terms of Reference of this group is to conduct a thorough review of the United Nations Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses. This is one of the key goals of the Global Census Programme for the 2010 Round of Population and Housing Censuses. The UNSD representative informed the Meeting that other key goals include ensuring that all countries conduct at least one Population and Housing Census during this round. Thirdly, UNSD will make available a platform for the exchange of ideas and experiences, technical assistance, data dissemination and information.
Noted the plans for the regional approach to the 2010 Round of Population and Housing Censuses as presented in the paper by the CARICOM representative;
Recommended stronger cooperation between countries of the region and between sub-regions;
Also recommended that Member States adopt practices and concepts recommended in the United Nations handbook on Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses.
EXPERIENCES AND LESSONS LEARNT FROM THE 2000 ROUND OF POPULATION AND HOUSING CENSUSES IN THE CARICOM REGION
Overall Management of the Census Process: Planning,
Financing, Cost Considerations and Sourcing of Funds,
Administrative and Legislative Issues and use of Contractors
Agenda Item 6 was then addressed by the Meeting. There were two presentations on Management and Planning by Montserrat and Jamaica. The Montserrat representative informed that even though prior to their Population and Housing Census there were several activities aimed at monitoring the total population, mainly as a consequence of the volcanic eruptions, there was nevertheless significant support for the Population and Housing Census in 2001. The census takers went through the usual steps in census taking, training the field staff and launching a very thorough public relations campaign. Despite these efforts, the results were delayed causing anxiety among the public in view of the fact that they had offered the census takers a considerable amount of information.
In her presentation, the Jamaica representative reported that management changes at the Institute lead to considerable challenges. As a consequence, their Population and Housing Census were postponed from April 2001 to September 2001. This led to the need to outsource some of the necessary activities. Several relevant committees were established to carry the process forward. Their Population and Housing Census cost USD10M. Two important considerations with respect to the outsourcing of activities were Capacity Development and Confidentiality. In outsourcing the Scanning phase of their Population and Housing Census, it was ensured that the Institute staff work alongside the consultants in order to enhance capacity development. Also, in the outsourcing contract, a clause related to confidentiality was included.
In the ensuing discussion, the Meeting noted the continuing high cost of mounting a Population and Housing Census and that the management of this massive exercise can be burdensome;
It was also noted that the timing of the census should avoid national elections or any other such activity that could negatively affect the smooth running of the fieldwork or the high quality of response to the questionnaire;
The discussion further noted the importance of a Regional Census Coordinator and Office to coordinate the Population and Housing Censuses successfully, as well as the early development of strategies to support census management;
Recommended that a regional approach to the conduct of the 2010 Round of Population and Housing Censuses be adopted;
Also recommended and endorsed by several participants, including the UNSD representative, that a core set of questions for the Region be developed that will form the nucleus of the regional questionnaire. Member States may add further questions of national priority to their questionnaire bearing in mind that the final instrument should not be too burdensome for the respondent;
Urged Member States to institute early planning and should include a thorough review of the prevailing Statistics and Census Act. This is particularly important in view of the fact that technology has significantly improved during the interim.
Effectiveness of Training for Census Field Enumeration - Training of
Trainers, Supervisors and Enumerators - Implications for Data Quality
From the presentation on the 'Effectiveness of Training for Census Field Staff' the meeting noted that training at all levels is crucial for the conduct of a thorough and successful Population and Housing Census. There was considerable discussion on the need to recruit and train intelligent and dedicated interviewers or enumerators. Such training should involve objective testing to assess capability of the enumerators. The objective test can also help to 'weed out' the undesirables.
In the discussion, it was noted that comprehensive and concise training manuals should be designed to assist in the training, and to be retained for future reference and use by enumerators.
Recommended that the RCO develops regional guidelines to assist the training at the National levels.
Also recommended that training commences with the Training of Trainers. This should be followed by the training of supervisors and enumerators;
Endorsed the suggestion that training be harmonised as far as possible;
Also endorsed the proposal that The CARICOM Secretariat develops a pool of expertise that the various Member States can draw on for training assistance, if so desired.
6.3 Census Pre-test - Usefulness and Experiences
A presentation was then made by The Bahamas on the Usefulness of a census pre-test. The paper noted that there should be a comprehensive pre-test including tools, instruments, as well as processes. Testing of certain aspects in one country and others in another may be explored. The experiences gained can then be shared. This can help to foster the regional approach. The objectives of the pre-test should be clearly defined.
Recommended the pre-testing of all instruments and procedures adopted for use in the Census;
Also recommended the thorough pre-testing of the Census questionnaire, which is the principal data collection instrument
Review of Preparation of Census Documents and the Implementation of a System of Document Control and Flow
Barbados then presented their paper on 'A System of Document Control and Flow'. The paper emphasised the need for designing an efficient system in order to guide the management of the entire census. The flow of such a system can also reduce bottlenecks.
In the discussion which followed these two presentations it was noted that the census questionnaire should be one of the main instruments to test. It was further noted that a range of tests including focus groups should be undertaken. This will help to refine the questionnaire at each level.
The discussion also noted the suggestion that 'Data Processing' should form part of the testing process.
Finally, note was taken of the importance of reconciling the number of forms, especially the number of questionnaires, distributed and the number that are eventually returned. A computerised system is recommended.
Recommended that Member States develop a comprehensive system of document control and flow;
Also recommended that this system be thorough tested, amended as necessary and used in the Census.