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The Central Statistical Office has extended the deadline for completing the 2022 Saint Lucia Population & Housing Census to the end of March this year.
The office had initially estimated that enumerators would have completed the exercise, possibly by the end of January.
Director of Statistics Sean Mathurin told St Lucia Times the census is approaching sixty percent population enumeration.
But he said the remaining forty percent required an extension of the enumeration exercise.
Mathurin explained that, as with similar exercises in the past, the current census had encountered some challenges.
He disclosed that they included trained enumerator dropouts.
“Some of the enumerators have gotten better jobs and on that basis they have indicated to us that they no longer want to be involved in the census,” the Director of Statistics stated.
Mathurin said the development was not new.
“We started out with in excess of six hundred enumerators. However based on our experience with past censuses we knew that there would be dropouts and the need for us to train new batches of enumerators,” he said.
“That was nothing new to us. It’s just the extent to which it continues to occur is unprecedented,” Mathurin noted, adding that the situation was worse in other countries of the region.
“We have measures in place to address that and that is what we have been doing,” Mathurin revealed.
He also said public reservations about participating in the exercise had impacted the census.
And although asserting that citizen reservations are nothing new, Mathurin told St Lucia Times that the situation appeared to be unprecedented this time around.
However, Mathurin stated that Saint Lucia was not unique in that regard.
“Towards the end of last year, there was a meeting of all Directors and Chief Statisticians of CARICOM and this was the experience of most, if not all, the Directors,” he recalled.
He said the meeting discussed the COVID-19 pandemic and its social impact among the reasons for the trend.
“Doing a census during a pandemic, if my memory serves me right and I think my colleagues substantiated that, that has never been done before,” Mathurin stated.
In addition, he pointed to the socioeconomic situation caused by the pandemic, declaring that it has not helped the situation.
According to Mathurin, people have other priorities, including ensuring they can earn a living and putting food on the table.
“To take the time to provide the information, for some persons out there, that is not a priority, despite the fact that it’s not that long – on average the interview should last twenty to twenty-five minutes,” he told St Lucia Times.
Nevertheless, the Director of Statistics indicated that the Central Statistical Office was addressing the challenges.
Mathurin said the office was working towards an end-of-March completion date, although it appears that the enumeration process has ‘moving deadlines’.
“With the competent and committed staff that I have on board, we are confident that the measures we are putting in place as of this weekend, at the end of March we should complete the census, barring any eventualities,” he said.