Posted: Friday, June 10, 2022. 1:11 pm CST.
By Benjamin Flowers: On Friday, May 13, the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) officially began the groundwork for the 2022 population and housing census, deploying field staff all over the country to visit homes and begin the 10-week process of counting. The 2022 census, which was delayed twice due to COVID-19, is being held under the theme “Count me in.” This week, an interviewer came to my house asking me to participate in the census, and despite my reservations, I decided to do so.
I knew right away that the person at my gate was with the census because of the SIB vest and large identification card hanging from her neck displaying her photo, name, and position with the Institute during the census. Ms. Victoria Velasquez was very professional as she introduced herself and explained how important being counted in the census is for national development.
Once I agreed to participate she explained that the interview contained two separate questionnaires, one covering the physical attributes and contents of my home, the other capturing information about the people that live there. There were also questions about my level of concern over national issues such as crime and the environment.
The interview was conducted with the use of a tablet, which was a notable step up from the last census, which saw interviewers walking around with large handbags full of questionnaires printed on letter size paper.
One of my major concerns going into the interview was how much of my time it would actually take as I did have things to do that day, but the process was not heavily imposing and the interviewer was willing to work around me adding more than 20 minutes of delays because of attending to one issue or the other at home. The questions were straightforward, written in a manner that would be easily understood by just about anyone and the formatting helped save time as answering “no” in some sections would render the follow-up question inapplicable, allowing us to move on.
As the interview continued I also had some concerns about the invasiveness of the questions, especially when it came to sections such as income and illness. As a media practitioner for 10 years, I know that confidentiality is a major concern for the public so I decided to deflect from answering a question by asking a question of my own about what kinds of answers people usually gave in that section.
I was pleasantly surprised when Ms. Velasquez, while keeping her friendly demeanor, replied “I’m sorry, but that information is confidential. I can’t discuss the responses of other people.”
A few questions later and the interview was over. At the end of the interview, Ms. Velasquez thanked me for my participation and left with the same warm smile she had first arrived with.
Participating in the census was an interesting experience for a reporter, considering I’m usually the one conducting the interviews. But it was a worthwhile experience and knowing that I’d played a role in national development was an added bonus.
Several factors such as the size of a family or the number of working-age people in a household would either shorten or extend the time it would take to work through the questionnaires, but overall, I would encourage everyone to participate in the census.
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