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Ecuador: Preparing for the 2010 Census

On Sunday, November 28, Ecuadorians will be counted again after ten years, as specified in the Constitution of the country. The National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC [es] by its initials in Spanish), the state arm responsible for generating and disseminating statistical information on socio-economic issues such as population, housing, inflation, illiteracy, unemployment, underemployment, calls it the “2010 Census – Population and Housing” [es] but for research references, this is the VII Population Census and VI Housing Census.

Ecuadorinmediato [es] comments on President Rafael Correa‘s concerns, who said that some people are taking advantage of the Census: instead of promoting the 2010 Census, his opponents are asking people to sign blank sheets of paper to collect the 700 thousand signatures they need to remove Correa from office. But Correa is optimistic that technology will solve these kind of situations in the near future:

Ojalá este sea el último censo de población en la historia del país porque de ahí seamos capaces de implementar sistemas de información y de informática tan buenos como en el primer mundo que nos permitan dia a día actualizar los datos.

Hopefully this will be the last population census in the country's history because we will be able to implement information and computer systems as good as those in the first world which will allow us to update the data day to day.

Planning for the 2010 Census in Ecuador began back in 2009. First, a mapping of a total of 469,000 businesses that were not registered began. Then, on September 1st the training of province and township boards and a communications campaign also started.

The day of the Census this year is November 28, but it will be prolonged at least one more week for places where it is difficult for even a helicopter to take off. Preliminary results will be available in the middle of 2011. Eco FM 881 in its blog [es], explains why it imperative to update current information:

Hasta 1999, la moneda oficial de Ecuador fue el sucre y en esa denominación se encontraban los datos estadísticos de la economía nacional, que de por sí eran desactualizados, sin embargo, la información existente servía de referente.

En el 2000, bajo el gobierno de Jamil Mahuad se adoptó el dólar como moneda oficial dejando completamente inservibles las cifras estadísticas.

Until 1999, the official currency of Ecuador was the sucre and the statistics of the national economy were in that currency, which themselves were outdated, however, existing information was used as a reference.

In 2000, under the government of Jamil Mahuad the dollar was adopted as the official currency leaving statistics completely useless.

The Statistics Act (Articles 20 and 21 of the Constitution) requires each Ecuadorian to provide the information asked by the INEC. It also guarantees the confidentiality of such information. On November 28, from 7 AM to 5 PM, some 13 thousand students in their last three years of secondary school will collect that information; 2 thousand teachers will also participate. Students will work in the urban sector and teachers will visit the suburban zones. Each student is to survey an average of 14 households and a week suspension of classes will be in effect. Considered a civic obligation, the pollsters will not receive a stipend. All pollsters will have the support of the police and the army.

Young student shows book of the INEC Goes to School Project at the inauguration in the El Cebollar school. Photo by the Ecuadorian Institute of Statistics and Census, used with permission

Raul Zavala’s blog reports that the 2011 National Budget [es] has already been presented and questions the immediate effectiveness of the census results. He also explains that there are 30 more questions on this year's census compared to the last census that took place in 2001.

The survey, which can be obtained here [es], consists of 44 questions concerning population, housing, education, access to basic services, age, migration, and disabilities. Ecuador, la vida en estado puro [es] details the differences between the 2001 survey and this one. The blog quotes INEC’s director on the scheduled results:

El director del Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas y Censos (INEC), Byron Villacís, explicó que los resultados del censo de este año se conocerán seis meses después de su realización, a diferencia de lo ocurrido con la información de la medición en 2001, cuyos datos se entregaron en el año 2004.

The director of the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC), Byron Villacis, said the results of the census this year will be announced six months after its completion, unlike what happened with the information collected in 2001, when the data was delivered in 2004.

Tourists flying to or from Ecuador have been warned that airplanes will not take off during the day of the Census. A government decree of immobilization will be issued that day from 7 AM until 5 PM EST. No public activities, sport events or religious services are to be carried out during that Sunday. Safe-conduct guidelines will be handed to members of the media, firefighters, nurses and physicians working that day. The Dry Act, which prohibits the sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages, will also be enforced.

Comentarios del Lado obscuro [es] tricks its readers with a sensationalist headline which criticizes the current government; but, the editor's intention was to attract readers, invite them to read the questionnaire before the census day and be friendly to pollsters. He calls on citizens to help those working on this specific day:

Los pobres delegados del INEC se van a sacar la chucha ese día. Deben encuestar muchos hogares y esa huevada cansa. Más aún cuando les toca personas que ni siquiera saben como responder a las preguntas y les toca preguntar una y otra y otra y otra y otra y otra vez… Es por eso que deben ofrecerles algún refrigerio: cola, agua, Quaker, jugo, sánduches, galletas, bolones, frutas, etc., lo que esté a su alcance. Si el delegado llega a la hora del almuerzo, ofrézcale la oportunidad de sentarse a su mesa y compartir la comida, total, donde comen 3, comen 4, 5, 6 y más.

Poor INEC's delegates are going to work hard that day. Many households will have to be surveyed and that gets you exhausted. Things worsen when you meet people who do not even know how to answer the questions and you have to repeat them again and again and again…. This is why you should offer them some refreshments: soda, water, juice, sandwiches, cookies, fruit, etc., whatever is within reach. If a delegate arrives at lunch time, offer the opportunity to sit at your table and share food, in the end, where 3 eat, 4, 5, 6, and more can also eat.

The INEC has its own Twitter account, @Ecuadorencifras, but no official hashtag has been set for the topic. Ecuadorian Twitter users have suggested #Censo2010Ec and many are eager to participate [es].  Some are a step ahead and asked to tweet what questions they thought the survey was missing [es].

While almost everyone is motivated to participate, the provinces of Manabí and Bolivar haven’t arrived to an agreement about geographical and mayoral boundaries. Chone, a city in Manabí, and Bolivar are calling to boycott the 2010 Census, arguing the inaccuracy of maps will make them lose budget allocations, as reported by El Universo [es]

It is estimated that each family survey takes 20 minutes to complete. The government is spending 25 million dollars in the 2010 Census.

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