Low response in Western Cape threatens budget allocations, integrity of Census 2022

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  • Only 70% of Western Cape households have been counted.
  • This poses a threat to Census 2022 as a whole.
  • The undercount will affect budget allocations to the province.

The Statistics Council – the advisory body to Statistics SA – says that the undercount in the Western Cape is a threat to the integrity of Census 2022 as a whole and will affect national budget allocations to the province and municipalities and district councils. 

Only 70% of households in the Western Cape have been enumerated, says the council, and appealed to people to be counted as it is in their self-interest. The council says that the problem is "specific" to the province and has not appeared across all systems or provinces. 

Council chairperson David Everatt and head of the population and methodology committee Nompumulelo Ndzimande said:

"The risks of a significantly under enumerated province is that the Census as a whole will be harmed, and data required by government for new local initiatives – such as District-led development – will simply not be available in places with a low count. If people do not tell us what they need - or what they don’t need or want! - Stats SA cannot advise any government accordingly."

While statisticians use a "post-enumeration survey" to establish the extent of an undercount, which together with a demographic analysis of the data helps correct the coverage error, the Council is not convinced that this will be sufficient. 

"It is inevitable that the current omission of households and individuals in the Western Cape will affect the total count, including demographic, social and economic information, as well as information about the housing conditions of the people who live in the Western Cape. It is important to note that census results are the basis for budget allocations across local, provincial, and national government. The repercussions of prevailing undercount are worrying for planning and service provision in the province," it said in a statement. 

READ | Census 2022: You can now submit your information online

The count period in the Western Cape has been extended to 14 May. 

In the rest of the country, the census is nearing the end of mop-up activities. The council said that for the most part it was encouraged by good rates of completion despite rains, flooding, Covid-19 and the shortage of rental cars. 

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