National Population and Housing Census to begin on June 16
Camillo Gonsalves
April 6, 2023

National Population and Housing Census to begin on June 16

The 2023 National Census, a head count of the population of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is set to commence on June 16, 2023 and run for a period of 12 weeks. The National Population and Housing Census was, however launched last week Friday, March 31 under the slogan “They counting you. They counting you. The information will benefit the whole country”.

The data collection, which is set to culminate on September 15, is the largest statistical undertaking to be conducted in SVG, and it is authorised and protected under the Census and Statistics act #24 1983. Funding for the census will be provided by the World Bank through a project entitled, “The OECS Data for Decision Making,” and for the first time in SVG the census will be undertaken using Computer Assisted Personal Interviews (CAPI).

The census will be administered electronically, meaning that when the enumerators meet each person, they will not be using pen and paper to record their information.

This head-count is the only data source that provides detailed information or micro-data at the lowest geographic level. It provides data to inform government’s planning and policies.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, speaking at the launch, encouraged every Vincentian to take part in the census as it is very important to note the progress people are making in their livelihood.

“We need to know a lot of things… we need to know reasonably how many people are working, how many people are not working, what are the ages of those who are not working, how we must direct attention to particular areas, which particular communities have advanced…”.

Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves expanded further adding that the census is also useful when dealing with concerns of urbanisation as a result of the eruption of La Soufriere in 2021.

“…Somebody may say, ‘well after Soufriere blow… I hear a lot of people [who] move from Sandy Bay are living down Glen now. Half the people gone down there and they ain’t gone back, therefore you should move money from up so and put it down so, you need a bigger school, you need a bigger clinic, you need whatever you need and it could be emphasized up there.”

Information to provide community outreach programmes for emergency response strategies can also be obtained from census data. Census data was said to be used to give an indication of the number of persons residing in areas that were designated as the volcano red hazard zone thus enabling the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) to ascertain the number of persons who needed to be evacuated at the time of the volcanic eruption.

The Finance Minister explained that data collection was based on assumptions and reasoning before the concept of a census was introduced.

“Then everybody realised that this is not a good basis for decision making, it’s not a good basis for analysis and companies need to know where people are and how much money they make, what their health challenges are, what sort of house they live in, and whether the household is led by a woman or man, and how much children are in the house, and where people are migrating to; and so they said we need data to know these things which will help us make money if I’m a business, “ the Minister said as he appealed for the co-operation of the public.

“ It will help us do analysis if I’m an education institution. It well help us make policy decisions if I’m a government so we need data and data needs to be the backbone.”

To date the Common Service Center has completed the review of the 2023 census legislation. This was submitted to the Attorney General’s Chambers for review to facilitate the timely publication of the 2023 census and statistics legislation. Without the legislation, the statistical office does not have the authority to collect the data.

The historical context for census taking in SVG dates back to 1871, but the first modern census was undertaken in 1945 and since then has been undertaken every 10 years