The Central Bureau of Statistics, which claims it has completed all preparation for the National Census 2021, has sought help from the media fraternity to encourage people to provide truthful and complete information to enumerators during a 15-day event.

The national census, which is held every 10 years, is being conducted from November 11 to 25 with the aim of reaching every citizen's doorstep and not repeating a single person.

During a 'Media Sensitisation Workshop on National Population and Housing Census, 2021', the CBS authorities highlighted the importance of census and sought help from media. The workshop was held with support from Media Action Nepal, UNFPA and other organisations.

During the workshop, Director General of CBS Nebin Lal Shrestha said, "We ask journalists and media fraternity to assure the people that all the information provided by them will be kept safe and their privacy will be well-respected.

We also want people to know that their participation in the national census is compulsory and anyone refusing to provide information might be liable to legal action as per the existing rules."

As per the Statistics Act 2015, people disrupting the census programme or not providing information may be subjected to a fine of Rs 200, or jail term of two months or get both punishments.

As many as 40,000 enumerators and 8,016 superintendents have undergone a series of trainings and are ready to be dispatched at fields for the 12th national census. Similarly, the CBS has also claimed it has built up mechanism from the federal level down to the ward level. A total of 57 district census offices have been set up in all 77 districts, with an additional of 10 offices in the most populated districts.

Similarly, 349 local level census offices have been established in the local governments as per requirement.

The census includes 80 questionnaires, with 25 questions related to listing of houses which have already been conducted about a month ago. So, each household will be asked a maximum of 55 questions which is projected to take 20 to 25 minutes, as per the CBS.

The census will cover four major fields, including social, economic, geological and physical infrastructure and people's head counting will be done on the basis of the principle of inclusion in various subjects such as ethnicity, language, religion, sex, social class, geology, disability, age, income, gender or gender minorities, among others.

The government has added four more categories regarding the census of people with disability - haemophilia, autism, complete blindness, and deafness. Two more ethnicities - Rana Tharu and Bhumihar - have been added to the census this time around with a total of 127 ethnic groups.

Similarly, people of gender minority groups are also being counted as 'third gender' at this census for the first time.

The national census is taken as a lifeline to formulate national level planning, development projects and other policies in any given field. During the workshop, Chair of Media Action Nepal Laxman Datt Pant reiterated the importance of recording correct data to prevent misinformation and devise clear rules and policies in the targeted field.

"Only the correct data will give clear picture of the country which will be helpful in formulating plans and policies.

As for journalists, correct data is the tool for fighting against the prevailing misinformation and disinformation in the media."

UNFPA Nepal Country Office in-charge Hashina Begum congratulated the authorities for completing preparation for census and wished for collection of complete and accurate data. The preliminary results of the National Census, including total number of Nepalis and their sex will be made public in three months.

However, the CBS might require up to two years to disperse every single data and issue separate booklet for every topic. The CBS has claimed it is introducing user-friendly website in a bid to facilitate the general public.

The preliminary readings of data by the CBS has estimated that there are around seven million households in the country with national population of 30 million people.

A version of this article appears in the print on November 09, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.