De Jure Method to be Adopted for Upcoming Population & Housing Census

The Census Advisory Committee, constituted by the Ministry of Planning, Development & Special Initiatives, has made its recommendations with regard to the upcoming 7th Population and Housing Census, proposing to opt for the de jure method.

The de jure methodology may be adopted for the upcoming census for comparability with the previous one, besides conducting the pilot census in all provinces and test run the whole process for risk management and disaster recovery as the next census would be digital.

It is worth mentioning here that the Planning Ministry constituted on 29 December 2020 a committee for recommendation and adoption of the best practices for the upcoming population census, comprising six members, under the chairmanship of Deputy Chairman Planning Commission.

The committee was reconstituted on 22 February 2021 and another 12 members were added to it from relevant organizations and renowned demographers. The mandate of the committee was to review the process, data collection, and field operation methodologies used for Census-2017 and give recommendations for adoption in the upcoming census.

The committee made the following recommendations for the 7th Population and Housing Census:

  1. Keeping in view the practices in the region it is proposed that de jure methodology may be adopted for the upcoming 7th Population and Housing Census for comparability with the previous census.
  2. Clarity on the concept of ‘usual residents’ must be devised, and comprehensive training should be imparted to all enumerators for correct and complete coverage.

The committee recommended that the census questionnaire should be comprised of the most important/relevant indicators as per data requirements. More specifically, a. The census questionnaire should be strictly in relevance to the objectives of the census and as short as possible to increase the quality of data. b. Two questionnaires may be designed:

  • 1st House listing Form – 4 to 6 Questions, II. 2nd Main Census Form (Short Form) – 10 to 12 Questions on • Demographic Characteristics i.e. age, gender, religion, ethnicity, nationality, disability, migration Literacy, Education Attainments, etc.
  • Housing Characteristics i.e. number of rooms, electricity, water, gas, toilet, construction material, gender of the household owner, etc.

The committee further recommended that a dedicated technical committee should be constituted by involving all relevant stakeholders to finalize the details of the questionnaire.

It suggested that the pilot census must be conducted before the 7th Population and Housing Census, which would help identify ambiguities and provide an opportunity to test the methodology. Furthermore, as per the recommendations, as it is suggested to conduct the next census “Digitally,” therefore, it is imperative to conduct the pilot in all provinces and test run the whole process, for risk management and disaster recovery.

There should be a comprehensive Communication, Advocacy, and Publicity Campaign for the 7th Population Census with the involvement of locals, Mimbar/masjid, Hujra/ Bhaitak, etc. Development and distribution of Information, Education and Communication (IEC) material – Interactive Videos, Censuslogo, Census Brochure, Color posters, Short Songs with Census Message lyrics, census slogans, Merchandising, Celebrities message through Media.

The committee reviewed that approximately 200,000 field staff was hired for the 6th Population and Housing Census-2017, with ten percent reserve staff. It recommends that:

  1. Increase the reserve staff from 10 percent to 15 percent: Involve more female enumerators for quality data collection and the option of using LHW may be explored as they are usually local and have a better understanding of the socio context of the area especially for data collection of sample form.
  2. Involvement of Graduate level students along with teachers may be made for training, data collection, and monitoring. Students may be hired from all over the Pakistan through Higher Education Commission (HEC).

To ensure that the field staff is well trained and understands the questionnaire, the following has been recommended by the Committee:

  1. Inclusive Training: Training should be imparted to all individuals involved in the Census operations. It should give clarity about all concepts and definitions of the questionnaire. Training may be imparted through a group of trainees i.e. for IT, Media, and for hard copy/manual training.
  2. Training including Technological Interventions: A training manual with audio-video clips for each question will be developed to better understand the theme of the questions. Separate video films and presentations for each level may be prepared for the training of field staff, supervisory staff, and senior management of the provincial level.

The involvement of more female trainers is recommended to better convey the definition and concept of questions of long-form during the field operation to increase the response rate. A mechanism for field training monitoring and evaluation must be developed so that field data collection be completed successfully. The monitoring will enable to filter off the trainers suitable to be the master trainer and appoint supervisors in the field.

The committee recommended that: a. Multi-mode Data Collection Models (Self-Enumeration, Tablet-Based and Paper Based, etc.) should be used for the 7th Population and Housing Census. b. Registers may be identified (such as Population Register (PR), Education Register, Employment and Unemployment and Building and Dwelling (BDR)) and updated, so that they may also be used for the 8th Population Census.

A sound Monitoring and Quality Control System may be devised for the successful execution and completion of fieldwork. It should ensure complete coverage and real-time mentoring. Geotagging of all structures should be done in every Census Block like household, hospitals, small-medium, and large establishments, religious places, educational institutions, and economic activities based in houses (cottage industries), etc. For effective monitoring:

  1. Well-trained and equipped staff must be involved to organize a complete monitoring system at every stage.
  2. An internet-based dashboard system must be developed for real-time monitoring and to cross-check the data by the supervisors and rectify it immediately.
  3. A complaint center may be launched to resolve the issues and it should be headed by the District Commissioner.

To increase the credibility of the Census results and build the confidence of stakeholders, it is strongly recommended that PES should be conducted. Efforts must be made to design the PES during the planning process with a sufficient budget and adequate methodology.

Demographic Analysis A committee of demographers and researchers may be set up for demographic trend analysis. The demographics should be included in the training material for better knowledge and understanding of the enumerator.

Keeping in view the above practices, it is proposed that for effective coordination, management, and monitoring, a National Census Coordination Centre (N3C) (along the lines of National Command and Operation Centre – NCOC ) may be established. The Centre should oversee the Census process and take appropriate and timely policy decisions. It will also help ensure credibility and ownership of the whole process. The National Coordination Centre will work under DCPC with all Chief Ministers/Chief Sectaries and representation of Law enforcement agencies for appropriate and timely decisions.

Since the 7th Population and Housing Census is proposed to be conducted digitally first time in the country, therefore, Dedicated Census Support Centers should be established at the Tehsil level. This will help keep the process smooth, ensure the availability of the system 24/7, and provide the end-user and field-enumerator the support they may need.

These centers will act as the backbone for census field operations having mainly the responsibility of handing/taking of handheld devices, installation and configuration of applications, etc. Moreover, they will provide support in the field. The Census Support Centers will also act as Control Room and Complaint Inquiry Office.

It is proposed that dashboards may be designed for management and other stakeholders to enable effective monitoring of Census operations and prompt decision-making. A National Census Coordination Center (N3C) should be equipped with well-designed multi-purpose dashboards for monitoring, trend analysis, and day-to-day decision-making for the successful completion of the national task.