After a two-day presentation and discussion on the 2019 Census report, the Solomon Islands National Statistics Office has concluded its dissemination program for Gizo, Western Province.
The Government Statistician and Census Commissioner Douglas Kimi officially opened the program on Thursday 12th October 2023, taking the time to explain the contributing factors that delayed the release of the report namely the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2021 November riots.
Several topics were raised and discussed during the workshop including how missing links and gaps can be strengthened between the national, provincial and community levels in terms of data collection and sharing information.
It was pointed out that Church leaders often fail to record and report deaths to the nearest clinics within their communities.
This is an area that should be supported to assist and update the national Civil Registry Systems in the provincial and national level and even assist with future census data.
Discussions also centered around education in Western Province. The 2019 Census report showed a high number of school drop-outs for Western Province and the clear demand for more schools in the future.
This was noted by the United Church’s Education Authority Planning Officer, Samuel Parabule.
“Our education system has a lot of gaps and it is our responsibility to lessen that number. Here in Gizo, children are spending time at the rubbish dump which is not right. Who is responsible for them?
“I am happy that Parliament has passed the Education Bill 2023 which will ensure that all children must attend school or their parents will be penalized.”
Several community leaders were present and one of them Marama Leslyan Huka expressed her fear and doubts at what the future might hold for her family.
“I am privileged to be here receiving this information from you. It opened my eyes to a lot of things. I was looking at the household chapter and in particular the data on the materials for floors and I just wondered if I will still have timber for my house in the future as the population increases with the demand on our resources?
“It breaks my heart. Will I still have the materials for my house? What will the next census report be like on this same chapter? What will things be like for my children in the years to come?”
A local tourism operator Moffat Maeta noted that as a father, a business manager and Church leader, he recognized specific areas within the report that he can use. While commending the team for their efforts, he questioned if the Government ministries have consistently and fully utilized the country’s previous Census reports.
“If they are using the data from past census, then we know that we are preparing for the future, but otherwise it is just a waste of huge amount of money and time.
“It cost you to come here to present this report. But who is using the data? Who is using the information here? That is the big question.”
The National Statistics Office will now focus on its next major project the Household Income and Expenditure Survey, HIES, due to begin early next year.