2020 census extended due to low participation, COVID-19 woes

first_imgAccording to a state intelligence projection that was shared with lawmakers during a virtual meeting on Thursday, National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) chief Doni Monardo said the swelling of COVID-19 cases in the country is set to reach its peak “at the end of June or July”.If this turns out not to be the case, the BPS chief said that the face-to-face interviews would take into account existing COVID-19 handling protocols and physical-distancing measures.Recruitment and training for on-field census takers were also affected by the health crisis, with the agency currently mulling a plan to train field workers remotely or online.Meanwhile, many citizens were relieved by news of the extended online census date, as some have had technical difficulties in accessing the census as a result of heavy online traffic on the website.Dinda Novita Ba’isyah, 23, finally finished filling in the online census for both of her parents and an older brother, despite some hiccups in the system earlier this week.“Yesterday I tried it but there were some errors; even trying to log on to the website came with an error [message],” Dinda told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday, breathing a sigh of relief.She and her family had known for some time about the census, but they were often not at home or had little time to sit down and actually do it.“We prefer this online method, because even if the census officers came over it would be troublesome to write everything on paper. And not everyone is always home, even though since this pandemic no one from our district has gone out except to shop for the bare necessities,” she said.In response to concerns about the technical glitches, agency spokesperson Endang Retno Andani said that heavy website traffic on the last day of the initial online deadline had caused the census servers to slow down to a crawl.“After this is extended, we hope that people can start filling in [the census] without waiting until the very last moment,” Endang said, adding that there were currently no plans to add more servers to boost the bandwidth.IDG Karma Wisana, the associate director of the University of Indonesia’s Demographics Institute, said that the postponement of the physical census could be a boon for the agency, as it would give it more time to paint a more accurate picture of the population data.Karma said that online data-gathering methods were used mostly to target specific segments of the population – such as the urban middle class – but the real impact could only be measured after concluding the entire process.He suggested that the BPS focus on maintaining a high rate of accuracy in gathering online data.“If the online segment of the census is expanded to other regions, then the BPS will need to have a more intensive communications strategy to make sure the larger population fully understands the census process,” Karma said on Wednesday, adding that the accuracy of the online data could only be measured after the fieldwork was finished.A 2015 intercensal survey – that is, a study conducted halfway between censuses – projected that Indonesia would have a population of 266.9 million by 2019, leaping to 319 million by 2045.The 2020 census is expected to help keep track of the country’s so-called demographic dividend – a boom in the productive working-age population that the government is so eager to cash in on. According to some estimates, Indonesia’s productive workforce will make up 70 percent of the entire population by 2030.The BPS has set a budget of Rp 4 trillion (US$292.9 million) for this year’s census, up from the Rp 3.3 trillion allocated in 2010. It is also looking to hire around 390,000 volunteers for fieldwork.But the pandemic has thrown a wrench into the logistics process, as its effects continue to be felt around the world.Other countries that are slated to conduct their censuses this year have also pushed back their schedules or even postponed them altogether to next year, as is the case in Brazil, Panama and Saudi Arabia.The United States, which is also conducting a census this year, has suspended all face-to-face surveys indefinitely and halted all operations at least until April 15, according to reports. The US Census Bureau has, however, already conducted part of the fieldwork by phone, mail and online.Topics : The BPS announced, amid calls for physical-distancing measures, that the online census would be extended until May 29, and the door-to-door census would be postponed until Sept. 1.“Because of COVID-19 we have had to adjust the schedule for the population census. Up until [Tuesday], only 32.4 million people had accessed the [online census],” BPS head Suhariyanto said during a virtual press conference on Wednesday, noting that the figure represented just 12.5 percent of the estimated population.“We hope to be able to reach 20–22 percent of our target.”Suhariyanto said that the bureau would watch out for newer developments when it came to adjusting the census schedule further, but there was a working assumption that the pandemic would likely be over by September. Indonesia’s once-every-10-years national population census has become the latest collective activity to be affected by the COVID-19 outbreak sweeping the country, with online procedures extended until the end of May and face-to-face fieldwork pushed as far back as September.This year marked the first time that the national census would be conducted both online and offline, with Statistics Indonesia (BPS) servers already going live almost two months ago to cater to citizens who wish to register themselves via the official website, sensus.bps.go.id.The online census began on Feb. 15 and was slated to end on Tuesday, with the door-to-door portion taking place in July until all the fieldwork was completed, but meager participatory numbers and the COVID-19 pandemic have pushed the dates back later into the year.last_img

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