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2020 census to cost about $3.5 million

Acting Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson said yesterday the government will spend roughly $3.5 million on the execution of the 2020 national census.

“It’s less than $10 million,” Johnson told reporters during a press conference at the Department of Statistics.

“I think we will probably end up spending close to $3 million, $3.5 million, for the census exercise over the two years.”

Of that figure, according to Johnson, about $150,000 will be spent on a system that will digitize the survey.

The Department of Statistics will hire 1,700 people for the exercise, according to Acting Director of the Department of Statistics Leona Wilson.

“This year, census workers will do all data collection using digital devices, which means data will be directly uploaded, validated and processed in real-time by a robust software solution that has been pioneered and co-financed by the World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations,” she said.

“Paper and pencil have served us well and now we have the advantage of taking the benefits that the digital survey solution provides.”

Wilson said the digitization of the census will “reduce the time lag between data collection and data analysis”.

“It will simplify the survey for census workers with automated question routing that will adapt to the answers given by the respondents,” she said.

The census will be conducted between September and November of this year.

Chief Census Officer Kim Saunders said the digitization of the survey will result in preliminary data being completed by the end of December.

“Thereafter, every month or two months, we intend to release data,” Saunders said.

“I think within six to eight months our aim is to have a full report on the census data.”

Before the census was digitized, according to Saunders, it would take the department about two years to process and distribute data.

The 2020 census will be the first major national survey conducted in The Bahamas since Hurricane Dorian devastated Abaco and Grand Bahama last September.

The Category 5 storm — the strongest on record to ever hit The Bahamas — impacted nearly 30,000 people and killed at least 74.

Although Wilson was unable to provide a plan for surveying residents on Abaco post-Dorian, she said the department will ensure that they are included in the census.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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