Pakistan’s First-Ever Digital Census Proves to Be a Massive Success

Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) started the 7th Housing and Population census process on February 20, 2023, with an option to self-enumerate through the specially designed portal.

The response from the public has been great with over 4 million people visiting the portal in just a few days. This is the first of its kind digital census in South Asia. The self-enumeration option will continue till March 3, 2023, while the field enumeration will start on March 1, 2023.

While speaking at a press conference held today in Islamabad, PBS Member SSRM, Muhammad Sarwar Gondal, shared that “Pakistan is making history with the first-ever digital census and Pakistan Bureau of Statistics shares with great pride that the people are participating actively and stakeholders are appreciating and supporting the exercise.”

He explained the digitized census approach and methodology extensively. He said that as with any first-time technology initiative, there are some minor issues that are being reported, which have been communicated to NADRA, who is taking care of the technology solutions behind the census. Gondal was grateful for the positive feedback as it is helping NADRA improve its systems.

Responding to a question regarding concerns being raised on the process from Sindh, in particular Karachi, Balochistan and a few other quarters, Gondal shared that prior to the census extensive and intensive consultations were held at levels, especially with provincial stakeholders to explain the complete digital process.

The apprehensions being raised are due to a lack of understanding of what the census process entails. PBS is once again engaging with the stakeholders to explain the facts and clear all misunderstandings to ensure that the census is being held in a transparent manner, counting each and everyone living in Pakistan, at the location they are living in. It is for this reason that a digitized methodology was chosen for this census.

Further explaining the census objective, Gondal shared that “as per the General Statistics Reorganization Act 2011 and UN Conventions, the census is a national duty to inform policymaking, future planning, and development for the progress of the country. Participation in the census is mandatory and providing reliable information is a civic duty for everyone living in Pakistan.”

Gondal emphasized that spreading fake news or misinformation for any purpose is a criminal offense, or politicizing it or using it for agenda-setting is dishonesty to the country and to the people. Census is our national duty and together we have to make this first-ever digital census a global success.

While responding to questions, Gondal also shared the details of how the safety and security of the data have been secured. He assured that over 100,000 fully trained enumerators will be using tablets to fill out census information visiting door-to-door while geo-tagging the structures.

He said that “we urge each and everyone to actively participate in the census either through self-enumeration at the online portal or with the help of enumerators who will be visiting door to door from March 1, 2023.”

Staying true to the principles of honesty and integrity, fulfilling its main mandate and the decision of the Council of Common Interest (CCI), the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics is conducting the first-ever digital census with the objective of providing credible, transparent, and timely data for decision-making. The digitization of the census guarantees transparency, accountability, and efficiency.

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