Census, Open the Door Please!

Census, Open the Door Please!Census, Open the Door Please!

The countdown to the 2016 National Census of Population and Housing has begun.

Since 2006, the national census is undertaken every five years and the last, the seventh since 1956, was held in 2011. In the years between 1956 and 2006, the census used to be conducted once in a decade, Mehr News Agency reported.

Previous surveys in the capital show that Tehranis “are not very good” at cooperating with census enumerators, who other than counting heads and households, also conduct various statistical surveys.

One of the surveys includes use of information and communications technology (ICT) by households and is currently underway in the capital. The survey which randomly selects a sample of several thousand Tehrani households is far smaller compared to the national population and housing census; however, enumerators say they are already facing obstacles and problems during their mission.

“When we applied for the job, we thought we should go door to door showing our ID cards, ask questions and record answers on a tablet. We didn’t know that our task would go beyond this,” one of the enumerators told a Mehr reporter.

Talking about his experience, he said, “When I went to the first home and rang the doorbell a woman answered. I showed my ID card via the intercom video doorbell and asked her to answer a few questions but she said her husband was not home and refused to respond.”

“I even told her she can answer via the intercom but she simply refused to answer the doorbell again.” It seems that some Tehranis don’t want to cooperate and we don’t know why.”

Although there are many residents who oblige and do provide answers to the questionnaire, yet in many cases the situation is quite different, another enumerator said.

In most cases the answers appear rehearsed. The common refrain is: “’I’m afraid that my cash subsidy will be cut if I answer’, ‘no one is home, I can’t answer’ (even when we show our ID cards), ‘I just don’t want to answer’, ‘I don’t have the time’, ‘I am busy right now’,” and so on.

 Increasing Awareness

The media should increase people’s awareness about the census and the importance of giving precise and accurate information to enumerators for the purpose of devising efficacious national development plans. Precise data can help improve people’s quality of life.

“By providing accurate statistics and information on the size, structure and essential features of the population, the census serves as an important tool for national planners, policymakers and officials to design and implement social, economic and cultural programs,” said Akbar Badiee, deputy head of Statistics and Information Office at the Management and Planning Organization.

Furthermore, the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population is one of the fundamental activities of the national statistical system and provides for implementation of several sample surveys within the context of the population and household census, he added.

According to Badiee, the number of enumerators appointed for the 2016 census in Tehran Province has come down to 8,760, while the figure was much higher at 18,000 in 2011 and 2006, as the number of questions has decreased to 24 from the previous 60.

The enumerators will be paid $450 and the census to be held in the upcoming Iranian year (starts March 20) will be completed over a month. The census dates have not been announced yet.

 New Tablets

The Statistical Center of Iran (SCI) should distribute 4,500 new tablets for proper implementation of the census in the Tehran metropolis, he said.

The first official census of population and housing in the country goes back to the year 1939 (76 years ago), and the census started from Kashan in Isfahan Province. But with the beginning of World War II (1939 to 1945) the enumeration was incomplete. The next population census was conducted in 1956 and showed a total population of 19 million people.

In the last 2011 census, a total of 114,000 enumerators and trained logistic and central staff participated. It lasted from October 24 to November 13 and covered 1,139 cities and 96,459 villages in the 31 provinces.

This census was the product of over two years of intense preparatory technical activities in the SCI after two pilot censuses were conducted in 2009 and 2010 in the provinces. The questionnaires and the execution modalities and methods of the census were finalized and adopted by the National Census Committee based on the conclusion and lessons learnt from the two pilot surveys.