A total of 9,572 enumerators recruited to conduct the second Population and Housing Census of Bhutan (PHCB) began updating the household lists across the country starting yesterday.

An official with the National Census Secretariat (NCS) said that the National Statistics Bureau (NSB) carried out pre-census activities that include house listing and census mapping exercise between 2015 and March 2016.

“There might have been changes in terms of building structures and occupants in the last one year, so the enumerators are updating the housing list,” the official said.

The enumerators, comprising of mostly teachers, will use the updated housing list for the main census enumeration.

The three-day census begins tomorrow.

Following the Royal Command from His Majesty The King, the government has declared a three-day national holiday to conduct the second Population and Housing Census of Bhutan.

The census will collect population data and basic housing information on health, education, employment and language, among others, for various administrative and planning purposes.

It will count all people living in the country during the census, irrespective of nationality.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said the next government should have statistics on state of the nation at least in terms of population and housing, among others so that it has proper plans to further strengthen the country.

“There will be questions on foreigners working in the country. People have to answer honestly and nobody is going to be penalised. This is not the purpose of the census,” the Lyonchhen said.

Accurate information is extremely important for the integrity of Bhutan and to ensure that country grows from strength to strength, the Lyonchhen added. “Everybody from the members of The Royal Family to a distinct villager will be counted.”

Finance Minister Namgay Dorji said that people harbouring illegal maids working with them have a fear of getting penalised by the authorities concerned. “Some even started taking their maids to their respective hometown.” There are chances that the enumerators will not get the accurate information.

Thimphu being one of the most populated dzongkhags has 1,140 enumerators, followed by Samtse with 863. Trashigang, the biggest Dzongkhag in the country, has 670 enumerators. Phuentsholing has 284 enumerators.

Being the least populated dzongkhag in the country, Gasa has only 62 enumerators, including those in Lunana.

An NCS official said that the secretariat decentralised the recruitment and identification of the enumerators to the respective dzongkhags. “We only provided the number of enumerators required in the Dzongkhag.”

An enumerator in rural areas is given 20 to 25 households considering the time taken to reach to each household in scattered settlements, while an enumerator in urban areas is given a maximum of 50 households.

“The houses in the urban are clustered and there isn’t must walking distance between the houses,” the official said.

There are two sets of questionnaires with three broad modules and four parts that households should answer.

The official said that on an average a household will take about one and an half hours to complete the whole set of the questionnaires.

The government provided about Nu 254 million for the census.

“We are all set to go. In fact, we have started working,” the official said.

The enumerators in rural areas started their four-day training on collecting comprehensive information on population and households on May 22, while those in urban centres were trained on May 23.

The official said that except for few additional questions on psychological wellbeing, income and debt, the procedures and conduct is same like the first PHCB conducted in 2005.

The NSB should conduct PHCB once every ten years. The census was postponed from May last year because of technical reasons and lack of budget.

The official said that most of the developed countries conduct its population and housing census every five years.

“It involves lot of resources, including financial, to conduct a population and housing census,” an official said.

The NSB will produce a comprehensive report after the census is completed.

“Based on the need and the budget, numbers of report can be generated from the comprehensive report,” the official said.

He added that the NSB carried out many advocacy programmes on the PHCB. “We expect everyone to remain in their residences during the next three days and extend full support and cooperation to the census officials.”

The census enumerators will start working from 9am.

“The enumerators can continue to work beyond five depending on their will but should not go on until late and disturb the people’s privacy,” said an NCS official.

Dechen Tshomo