Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Wild Animals Scare Census Officials

Arusha — THE mock census that was conducted in Ngorongoro Forest Reserves last year seems not to have prepared officials for the onslaught of wild beasts during the ongoing real exercise.

In Osunyai Village of Longido the exercise was forced to stop for three days when wild animals, mostly lions, elephants and buffaloes decided to set up camp in the area, causing the census officials to flee. Some people who did not want to be counted feigned the same chalk markings on their premises fooling the officials that their houses have been covered.

As a result the previous confidence that the region would accomplish the census in five days have been dashed. Arusha will have to continue with the exercise until next Wednesday. According to Mrs Margaret Martin, the Regional Census Coordinator here, taking into consideration that the whole country will continue with the exercise until next Sunday.

Based on the experience gained during the Mock Counting Exercise of late last year, authorities in Arusha had previously boasted that they are able to complete the 2012 National Population Census within five days. Mrs Martin said that the mock census having been conducted in the remotest and highly difficult District of Ngorongoro had prepared them to overcome all major hurdles likely to surface in this year's real exercise.

"The problem with Ngorongoro was lack of roads, language barrier, wild animals and being cut off from communications since most parts are yet to be covered by mobile phone services," said Mrs Martin. During the mock census parts of Ngorongoro proved to be so remote that the National Bureau of Statistics had planned to use helicopters and planes to reach them.

However, according to Mrs Martin, the Census Exercise in those remote parts of Ngorongoro District will no longer be conducted using aircrafts because most of the roads have already been repaired. "In some areas like Oloipiri, roads were either non-existent, in bad condition or impassable by motor vehicles. That is why we opted to use helicopters.

"But recent inspection of the areas has revealed that the authorities have repaired most roads which can now be used if not by cars, at least by motorbikes," said the Regional Statistical Manager and Coordinator of Census, Mrs Margaret Mutaleba-Martin.

She added that, due to the new development, her office will no longer have to hire planes or helicopters and instead motorcycles will now be deployed to conduct the exercise in locations that cannot be reached by cars.

"But Ngorongoro has been provided with more fuel than the other six Districts of Arusha due to its remoteness," said Mrs Martin. She added that even the District Council has added more vehicles into the census fleet to ensure that every section is well covered. The distance from one village to another in Ngorongoro District sometimes reaches 50 kilometres through almost roadless wilderness infested with all types of wild beasts.

"We are using local people in the area to conduct the census exercise because outsiders will find the task impossible, especially due to the language barrier," said Mrs Martin. A workforce of 5,057 officers will be deployed in the seven districts of Arusha Urban, Arusha-Rural, Meru, Karatu, Longido, Monduli and Ngorongoro and according to the Statistical Manager, the preparations have been completed by 100 per cent.

The 2002 Population Census indicated that Arusha Region had 1,280,000 people but according to the Regional Statistician, they are going into the current census with an estimated population of 1.8 million. The Census in Arusha will cover 305 rural villages and 126 urban streets in 123 Wards in which there are 3268 counting sections and as far as the coordinator is concerned they expect to wind up the exercise in just six days.

The Census Exercise for Arusha Region is expected to cost around 1.8 billion/-. Last week the Wildlife Division in the Northern Zone issued a hunting permit (number GD-7.80/72/134) to allow the killing of 12 zebras that are to be roasted for the Hadzabe Bushmen in the Lake Eyasi basin who want to be fed on bush meat before being counted.

More bush meat will be sought for other Hadza people in the Yaeda Valley of Mbulu District (Manyara region) and Kipamba Ward (Singida) in efforts to bring the Bushmen together for the counting exercise.

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