Why population census is key in nation’s development

THE importance of National Population and Housing Census cannot be overemphasized. Population censuses are conducted every ten years.

Accurate census data is valuable and essential for economic development, healthcare, education, business planning, transportation and decision making.

The census plays an essential role in giving detailed information on the population density. The data collected also plays a prominent role in providing the demographic surveillance necessary for monitoring and evaluation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which place the highest priority on leaving no one behind.

The census provides a suitable database for comparison and projections of demographic data as well as social and economic characteristics of society.

It invited governments to give priority to the planning and undertaking of the next population and housing census. Apart from knowing the actual number of people in the country at a particular time, it gives out an accurate picture of the society.

This includes how many dependents and how many taxable adults are there and this enables government forecasting for economic needs.

Economists have expressed optimism on the country’s 61,741,120 people, advising the government to capitalize on the figures by embarking on a major agricultural revolution and skills development for swift economic growth.

Sociologist Lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), Dr Egidius Kamanyi, suggested that the just released results of the first volume of the 2022 National Population and Housing Census (NPHC), should be an opener for the country to further stimulate development, accelerate growth, alleviate poverty and achieve any number of other goals to mixed success.

Last year, the economy grew by 6.4 per cent, while the population has been growing by 3.2 per cent yearly for the past ten years as indicated in the first volume of the NPHC2022.

Results from the recently released 2022 National Population and Housing Census (NPHC) indicate that six regions in the Lake Zone have a combined population of 14,280,093 implying 23.13 per cent of the total population in Tanzania.

Mwanza region tops the list with a population of 3,699,872 followed by Kagera region (2,989,299), Mara (2,372,015), Shinyanga (2,241,299) and Geita (2,977,608).

“Economically, the five regions have big potential to contribute to the nation’s development. The Lake Zone area is endowed with fertile soils and abundant rainfall suitable for the production of cash and food crops,” hinted Dr Kamanyi, adding, “There were instances in the past of people claiming that their religious and cultural beliefs did not allow them to be counted in any census.

Some went as far as attempting to intimidate others into rejecting the exercise. But these are the same people who tend to make the most noise when pleading with the government to step up its efforts to ensure that essential social services are made available even in the most remote parts of the country.

They are apparently unaware that accurate census data plays a pivotal role in turning development plans into reality.

One cannot reject census and at the same time expect development. You can’t eat your cake and have it,” he remarked, However, there is no hidden agenda in the census. The 2022 and future exercises should be embraced by all Tanzanians since they are for our own benefit.

Children aged seven years and above should be in school. Without a doubt, most of them would have been enrolled and attending classes. Sadly, though, tens of thousands of them- mostly children from pastoralist communities- are denied their right to education and are forced to look after livestock.

The truth is that the government and other stakeholders have invested a lot of resources in developing the communities, but they seem stuck to their traditional ways of living –or, at best, are ambivalent about formal education.

The 1978 National Education Act, as amended from time to time, guarantees compulsory primary education for every child from seven years of age. It also stresses that no such child shall be refused enrollment in school – and parents shall ensure that schools have been built close to them, but due to their nomadic nature, even enrolled pupils just as soon drop out.

This calls for a foolproof approach that would help the children from such communities’ access full time education, the time they regularly attend school, but this does not seem to work in pastoralist communities. Kagera Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr Albert Chalamila, on the other hand, explained that postal codes are also important social identifiers and act as essential elements in the country’s development.

“The obvious advantage of having customer addresses with valid postal codes is ensuring that mail and shipments reach the customer without any delays. It also optimizes costs by reducing the chances of courier agents having to return shipments because of failed deliveries,” he noted.

A postal code refers to a system wherein a country is mapped out by a series of unique numbers. Each country has its own postal code system. It is a series of numerical numbers that identify specific postal delivery point or area and for Tanzania the precisely defined area is the Ward.

This professional allocation of postal codes was done after a long search involving different experts. Addresses are an important part of consumer identities and hence brands must maintain clean, updated address databases for all their customers.

Pursuant to Article 41 of the Electronic and Postal Communications Act, 2010, the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) informed the public that the list of postal codes for the United Republic of Tanzania was published under the Official Gazette Notice Number 240 dated April 22, 2016.

The Ministry of Information, Communication and Information Technology recently launched the National Physical Addressing (NaPA) system in Mwanza City which marks the official beginning of residential addressing and postcode services in the area.

Mwanza City Council is a model for NaPA system towards reaching all the councils countrywide. Former Minister for Information, Communication and Information Technology, Dr Ashatu Kijaji said while launching NaPA system that in order to access the services, one should download a program dubbed ‘Program Tumizi’ on mobile phones.

She remarked that NaPA system is connected to all public institutions, including those at Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), Business Registration and Licensing Agency (BRELA), National Identification Authority (NIDA), Health as well as Land Management Information system.

The 2022 Population and Housing census was the sixth in the series. Other censuses with population in brackets took place in 1967 (population 12,313,469) … 1978…. (17,512,610),…. 1988….. (23,095, 878),….. 2002…… (34,569,2320, and 2002…(44,928,923).

The results of these researches are important pillars for the government in its efforts to bring about development to its people. The information collected will be kept strictly confidential and will be used for statistical purposes only.

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