Beverly Harris – Director of Statistics
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
October 21, 2010 (SKNIS)
St. Kitts and Nevis commemorated the inaugural observance of World Statistics Day on October 20 by launching the 2011 Population and Housing Census.
At a ceremony on Wednesday, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Hilary Hazel welcomed stakeholders to the start of what was described as a “very important” exercise.
She explained that the local data collection exercise in St. Kitts started as early as 1871 to be carried out every 10 years, but the process was interrupted in the mid decades of the 1900s due to World War II. As such, the last survey in 2001 was only the 13th edition. It revealed that 46,325 persons were living in the Federation with 35,217 residing on St. Kitts while 11,108 populated the smaller sister island of Nevis.
Director of Statistics, Beverly Harris stressed that the Census is an extensive process which covers 13 areas, including migration, housing, crime, demographic characteristics, education and training, technical and vocational training, as well as birthplace and residence. Information is also collected on disability, marital status, fertility, and economic activity.
Ms. Harris focused primarily on two specific areas, the first of which was education.
“When we look at education, we are able to determine how many preschools places will be needed in 2012/2013. “¦ information on education is also important as it helps to project the number of school places required in the future, as well as the size and location of the school and the number of teachers that will be needed,” she indicated. “At the same time we will be better able to see the number of persons that will be leaving school in the next 10 years and estimate the demand for jobs and the number of new jobs required to meet the demand.”
The Director of Statistics revealed that the decision to construct a new daycare center in the parish of St. Peter as well as a new secondary school in St. John (Saddler’s Secondary School) was largely influenced by the data revealed from the 2001 Census.
The second area highlighted by Ms. Harris was housing.
“It is necessary to measure the housing stock that exists in the Federation in terms of the quality and quantity. It is also important to measure the conditions under which people live,” she remarked. “The information obtained from this section can allow policy makers and private individuals to assess the housing situation in terms of the age and conditions of existing stocks and the level of overcrowding.”
Ms. Harris indicated that approximately 250 enumerators and supervisors in St. Kitts and more than 50 in Nevis will begin this critical task in mid-April 2011 with the start of the relevant field work. She added that the information will be collected under the authority of the Statistics Act No. 12 of 1971 that requires residents to respond and cooperate with the data collectors.
It also regulates the use of the information by prohibiting unauthorized release to any person or entity. All data collected will be aggregated to avoid individual identification. May 15, 2011 is officially Census Day and workers will again visit homes briefly to confirm or adjust the information.
Laurel Bain, Director of Statistic for the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), endorsed the Population and Housing Census and encouraged residents to cooperate fully with the census officials. This she stressed would allow for “policy making to be based on comprehensive, accurate and timely data.”