Census 2011 officially started last week with around 156 000 enumerators, co-ordinators and supervisors setting out across South Africa to count the country’s entire population before the end of the month.

At a briefing on Thursday Statistician-General Pali Lehohla said the third Census of the democratic South Africa got off to a good, if slow, start.  “The census is very important and all people in South Africa must participate.  It is much more than a head-count.  Think of it as a “medical check-up” for our nation.  It measures our collective health and well-being, and our rate of socio-economic progress” says Helen Zille, leader of the Democratic Alliance.

When citizens complete their questionnaires accurately they provide important information that is used by all three spheres of government in planning and decision making for their community, their city, their province and the country as a whole.

Governments depend on census findings to determine which areas need services and new infrastructure such as schools, roads, waterworks, public transport, clinics, hospitals and housing.

The statistics also determine how national government funding is distributed to provinces and municipalities and also define electoral districts at a local and national level.

In other words, if citizens refuse to complete questionnaires then the municipality or province in which they live will receive less money, and services needed in their areas might not be delivered.

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