Lesotho gears up for digital census

6 April 2016
These young mothers at Mahobong, Leribe district are supported by UNFPA through Help Lesotho, a non-governmental organization based in Leribe. They and their babies will be counted in the country's first ever digital census. © UNFPA Lesotho / Violet Maraisane

MASERU, Lesotho – Lesotho is gearing up to conduct a paperless Population and Housing Census, which will kick off with the enumeration of the households of His Majesty King Letsie III and Prime Minister Dr. Pakalitha Mosisili on Sunday 10 April.

 

UNFPA Representative Therese Zeba (centre) with UNFPA Assistant Representative Retselisitsoe Nko (right) and an American Embassy official, discussing the paperless census. © UNFPA / Violet Maraisane

The census, to be conducted from 10–24 April, will be carried out with the use of mobile devices known as Personal Data Assistants (PDAs) for data collection. The country’s previous population census was conducted in 2006.

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund is supporting Lesotho with the undertaking of the census, including with procurement of equipment, technical assistance and capacity building. In September last year, UNFPA handed over 80 mobile devices (tablets) to the Bureau of Statistics.

Results anticipated in July

When briefing development partners from the European Union, American Embassy and International Monetary Fund, Liengoane Lefosa, Director of the Bureau of Statistics, outlined the process undertaken so far in preparation for the census. This included the pilot, development of the questionnaire and its subsequent review and finalization, the acquisition of transportation (small aircraft, boats, horses and 4 x 4 vehicles) particularly for reaching the remotest areas, sensitization of the public, and security for the enumerators as well as the mobile devices.

 

Liengoane Lefosa, Director of Lesotho's Bureau of Statistics (left) and an EU official, at the briefing facilitated by UNFPA and the Resident Coordinator's Office. © UNFPA / Violet Maraisane

A week has been set aside for call backs, particularly in the city centres where most people are at work during the day, meaning that the final date for enumeration will be 30 April, she said. In areas where security may be an issue, enumeration will be done using paper and not PDAs.

 

The briefing was facilitated jointly by UNFPA and the Resident Coordinator’s Office. It is envisaged that the results of the census will be published by July 2016 as it is anticipated that the data collection and analysis will take less time than normal.

“In addition, where there is no connectivity, paper will be used but data will afterwards be transferred to the mobile devices for immediate transmission to the main server,” she added.

Enumerators trained in PDA use

 

 

During their training in Maseru this week, two enumerators roleplay a simulation of the data collection process. © UNFPA / Violet Maraisane

In preparation for the upcoming census taking, the training of enumerators was concluded on 6 April. One of those trained, Mothepane Mohapi, said she was confident that she was well prepared for the task ahead. The enumerators were trained on the procedure to follow in the field, including ensuring that the area chief is aware of their presence, as well as their roles, administering of the questionnaire, and how to use the Personal Data Assistants (PDAs) for data collection.

The Fund will continue to provide technical support to the Government of Lesotho, especially providing data and statistics to inform policy and decision-making.

By Violet Maraisane