By James Gatdet Dak
May 7, 2008 (JUBA) – The population and housing census in Southern Sudan officially ended on Tuesday, May 6, unsuccessfully according to reports from various states in the region.
The Chairperson for the Southern Sudan Census, Statistics and Evaluation Commission, Mr. Isaiah Chol Aruai, in a press statement he issued on Tuesday, estimated that about ninety to ninety-five percent (90% to 95%) of South Sudan population has been counted.
Aruai blamed a number of challenges for not achieving a 100% headcount. He said insecurity in the South coupled with heavy rainfalls in some states were among the obstacles to the success of the census.
The Census Chairperson however concluded that the exercise went on well.
Sample reports from various states such as Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Eastern Equatoria, Upper Nile and Lakes states dispute the census results, saying many more areas have not been reached and counted in the region.
For instance, Census Field Coordinators in Aweil, Northern Bahr el Ghazal state, reported that several villages near to the North-South border have been counted to the northern population by enumerators from Southern Kordufan while dozens of villages more were not mapped in the census mapping and therefore could not be located for the count.
A similar report came out of Rumbek where about twenty-eight villages and many more cattle camps were not counted because they were not included in the census mapping. Some villages, although mapped, could not be accessed because of insecurity in the area, the report added.
Census Field Coordinators also complain about lack of transport, saying in some situations two Counties had to share only one vehicle for the enumeration exercise and without means to communicate.
There is also a wide range of complaints by enumerators that promises by respective state census offices to make them sign contracts in order to get paid after the exercise have not materialized, leaving enumerators confused and worried whether they would get paid or not.
The Sudan Population and Housing count is the most important mechanism in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) meant to determine how power and wealth should be shared between North and South in accordance with the census results.
The results of the Census will also be used for determining political constituencies prior to the conduct of the country’s general elections in 2009.
This will also be used by the government in planning for distribution of basic services across this vast country.
Aruai said the next step is for the census authority in the country to compile, analyze and disseminate the results within the next three months.