DEVELOPMENT and National Planning Minister Alexander Chiteme says preparation activities ahead of the 2020 national census were delayed due to the gassing incidences and the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to a statement issued by ministry spokesperson Chibaula Silwamba, Monday, Chiteme said a number of planned activities had to be postponed thereby affecting the starting of the main census.

But Chiteme said the Zambia Statistics Agency (ZamStats) was in the final stage and concluding the mapping of data collection in the three last remaining provinces.

“The Government of the Republic of Zambia is committed to ensuring that we conduct a successful census that conforms to international standards and which will inform our country’s development trajectory among many other undertakings that depend on statistics, is unwavering. However, it is also true the that current environment heavily impacted by the novel Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has raised a fundamental question on whether or not it would be safer to conduct the 2020 Census in such an atmosphere. It is important for the public and the various stakeholders to understand that the safety of the staff that will be involved in the 2020 Census of population and housing is made paramount and above everything else,” Chiteme said.

He said collection of data in Muchinga, Southern and Central Provinces is in the final stages.

“The Ministry of National Development Planning wishes to inform members of the public and various stakeholders that the Zambia Statistics Agency (ZamStats) is in the final stage of concluding the mapping data collection in the last remaining provinces, namely Central, Muchinga, Northern and Southern, as part of the activities preceding the main Census 2020,” he said.

And Chiteme said he would engage the Ministry of Health on how to proceed with next year’s national census amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The recent upsurge in COVID-19 cases in the country raises concerns with regard to the safety of staff, including enumerators. In this regard the Ministry of National Development Planning, as the parent ministry of the Zambia Statistics Agency, is enhancing its engagement with the relevant authorities including the Ministry of Health for guidance on how best to proceed with the 2020 Census. The general public will be kept informed on the outcomes of the consultations in due course,” said Chiteme.