Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Botswana Housing and Population Census

For the better part of the month of August, the Government of Botswana conducted a census survey. The last one they conducted was in 2001 and many people here are interested to see if the country will exceed 2,000,000 total residents.

A census taker came by my house around 7:00pm on a Friday night carrying a rather large pad of paper. We sit down in my living room to fill it out.

It was fairly straightforward but there were some interesting questions and categories. A few highlights:

-Asking what appliances were in my house. (Not many)

-Asking how many cows, goats, donkeys and chickens I owned. (None)

-Asking if I owned a boat, car, bike, or donkey cart. (No, no, no, and no)

I think the census taker was fairly surprised at my responses. A goal of the census, besides recording population, is to take a measure of the relative wealth of residents to accurately gauge poverty. I live a very comfortable life here but according to his metrics, I am poor because of my lack of animals and material possessions.

I also found it interesting that the census form does not have an area to fill in the respondent's race. I didn't ask the census taker about it, but later researched it some. Apparently, the Botswana census has never recorded anyone's race. I am sure there is an explanation for this, but I was unable to find one. My guess is that it was either seen as unimportant information or it was an intentional effort to prevent race or tribe from becoming an issue like it has in so many other nearby countries.

The whole survey took about 15 minutes and mostly involved me saying "no" to questions about possessions. I gave the census guy some food to eat and a cup of water and then he left. I have now been counted in two censuses in as many years.