South Sudan Population Census

Southern Sudanese in the diaspora were this week urged to participate in the fifth Sudanese census, which is due to take place in late 2007/early 2008. Following a meeting of the Southern Sudan Population Census Council (SSPCC), both those refugees in the diaspora and also Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) outside the Southern Sudan were told of their importance to the census process, whether as employees of the census, or as people to be counted in the census. Personnel at all levels within GOSS were also called upon to be ready to facilitate this crucial process.

In an earlier statement, the Chairman of the SSPCC, HE Dr Justin Yaac, Minister for Cabinet Affairs in GOSS, had emphasised the importance of the census in deciding the allocation of resources, under the terms of the CPA, to the Southern Sudan. If the actual population of the Southern Sudan is proved to be less than estimated, he said, the South’s share of resources will be reduced. If the South’s population is proved to be more than estimated, it will attract increased resources and, potentially, be able to claim arrears. In addition, stated Dr Yaac, the census was important in the run up to elections and the 2011 refurendum, as only those included would form the electorate for these important votes.

In a statement following the meeting, SSPCC Deputy Chairman HE Dr. Luka Biong Deng, Minister for Presidential Affairs in GOSS, noted that the Commission faced a number of challenges to its work and was developing specific measures to address them. These challenges include: insecurity, problems in the definition of the North-South border, the establishment of new counties, and the return of IDPs and refugees to their areas of origin. HE Dr. Biong emphasised in particular the importance of the return of IDPs and refugees. SSPCC, he said, was developing a communications strategy, to utilise all available media in order to publicise the census to all Southern Sudanese people. He appealed to the people of Southern Sudan, and also to all levels of Government, to prepare for this crucial exercise.

Mr. Isaiah Chol, Secretary of SSPCC and Chairman of the Southern Sudan Commission for Census, Statistics and Evaluation (SSCCSE), said after the meeting that SSCCSE was continuing the preparatory work begun in 2005, prior to the establishment, by Presidential decree in February 2006, of the National Population Census, which includes both Government of National Unity and Government of Southern Sudan elements. Mr. Chol stated that much had been achieved, in the Southern Sudan, in that time. The census structure was now largely established, with two offices set up, in Juba and Rumbek and further offices in each of the ten states to come. So far, he stated, the census questionnaires and field manuals had been developed. The principal trainers, who would be responsible for training the Census enumerators, had themselves now been trained, as had geographical assistants in the ten states.

Mr. Chol stated that this census, the fifth in Sudan, would be the first to utilise new technology. Global Positioning System (GPS) data would be used to enable the gographical mapping process, Geographical Information System (GIS) technologies would be used, and the census results would be scanned into computers.

However, Mr. Chol emphasised the fact that the SSCCSE was in need of many more staff. He urged Southern Sudanese with training in statistics and social demography to come forward to contribute to this historic work. Further, he noted that SSCCSE would also have need of other professionals, such as accountants and human resource specialists, in order to complete its task.

Mr. Chol said that a pilot census would soon be carried out, most likely on 15th November, though this date could potentially slip into January 2007 if adverse weather conditions, insecurity or technical unreadiness either in the North or the South made a November date impractical. The pilot census would cover five Enumeration Areas in each state, three urban and two rural in each case. This would give SSCCSE the chance to test its systems in real-life conditions. The census proper will follow one year after the pilot takes place.

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