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I count - proudly waiting to be counted

BY: Vicky Wireko

At the hairdresser’s salon last Monday, I overheard a conversation on the much awaited Census Night which happened the previous night, June 27, 2021.

The conversation was on the back of a lead story on the 12 noon Akan news of a local FM station. The story was on the Census Night counting the night before in some hotels, hospitals and some make-shift structures in Accra.

Myths, misunderstanding

As usual, wrong information, myths and misunderstanding clouded their discussion as one lady vigorously visited her gross misinformation and ignorance of the process on the others.

Her point was that at the pre-census visits, the officers were asking people how many television sets they had in their homes.

Before she could finish, another one jumped in with her response that she was not going to cooperate with such time wasting and needless questions.

Then another one said, “What has counting people got to do with the number of television set or toilets in my house?”

I felt like interrupting the conversation, but I also did not want to be seen as an eavesdropper and so left it there, feeling a guilt of an opportunity to correct a wrong lost.

The discussion made me wonder whether the education on the all-important national event had really sipped down with the population.

From the conversation at the salon, there probably may have been many more misconceptions and misinformation making the rounds in other places around the country and indicating lack of understanding of the on-going Population and Housing Census (PHC).

It gives away the fact that the housing bit of the census has been completely relegated or misunderstood.

What seems to be top of the mind is the counting of people as is done in almost all the censuses of recent memory.

Education

Certainly, the success of the current PHC is largely dependent on the communication and education that has gone on and will continue to go on even as the counting is in progress.

Two census attendants visited my home a couple of weeks ago and thus got me listed. We went through questions about some of the structures in the house, including the number of toilets and the suck away.

Never was there a question about the number of television sets.

Much as one would like to believe that the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) has worked tirelessly to bring us thus far, the conversation I overheard at the salon points to the fact that education on the housing bit of the census, particularly in the local languages, may have been inadequate.

It could also be that people are mixed up with all the hype on the hackneyed phrase, “get counted because you count”.

What seems to have stuck in some minds is the fact that there is a population census to count the number of Ghanaians.

The housing aspect, which is the other leg of the census and of equal importance, is unfortunately played down on or lost on people.

Rightly so, unless it is hyped beyond proportions as census is largely associated with counting of heads.

There has been enough education about the enumerators. In these times of intruders and fraudsters, we have been educated enough on who will call at our premises, how to identify them and numbers to call to report on misdeeds.

What the housing census is does not come out well. It is, hence, not readily understood by those who may be experiencing it for the first time.

It is not too late though. The education on a housing census running concurrently with the head count and why we need it should flow.

Thankfully, we have up to July 11, 2021 to end the exercise. A lot can be done in terms of intensive education, especially in the local languages.

The Government Statistician is captured in the media as saying that 98.3 per cent of expected number of structures had been chalked and listed.

All well and good but it does not mean that the inhabitants of those structures are well informed about what is going on.

What one, however, needs is the full complement of understanding of what is going on by the majority, if not the entire population. One needs to know why housing has been added this time round.

I have been listed. I have the full understanding of the PHC and l look forward to be counted because I count.

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