Saturday, 20 October 2007

Peruvian government takes drastic measures to ensure 2007 census success

Tomorrow, Sunday 21st October, a census will be carried out countrywide in Peru. Its purpose is to identify and gain better knowledge of the population distribution and their level of education, birth and infant mortality rates, housing and the materials used for construction and problem areas, such as towns with no access to running water, drainage or electricity. The information gathered will help to improve the country’s social aid programmes, hopefully meaning that more support will reach the areas where it is most needed.

Therefore, in part, this is very good news. However, in order to carry out the census, the government has issued a complete ban of all forms of transport nationwide! The ban will last from 8am to 6pm, meaning that between those hours there will be absolutely no buses, taxis, private cars or other forms of transport allowed on the road. People found outside will be asked to return home until 6pm. The same happened in 1993, resulting in thousands of people across the country being arrested and fined, simply for leaving their homes! Fortunately since then it has been agreed that this is actually against the law and against the right to freedom, so this time the authorities do not have the power to arrest or fine anyone, but they will still “recommend” people return home.

The entire country being ordered to stay shut in their homes all day just for a census seems absurd to me, and probably does to most other Westerners too. Other countries seem to manage to complete their census without having to shut the entire population inside! But quite aside from it being absurd, it is also preventing many Pervians from going to work. Most people in the West think of Sunday as a day of rest, but in Peru it is just one more working day for the vast majority of people. They need to work 7 days a week in order to bring in enough money for their families; the idea of a day off is a luxury. So for these people the census is a loss of income, perhaps meaning that their children go hungry that day.
On the other hand, some Peruvians have explained to me that due to the lack of cooperation amongst the people, the results of the national census have not shown an acurate reflection of the reality. This in turn, has meant less effective social aid programmes. In order to combat this non-cooperation and improve aid programmes, the government has had to take some drastic measures. I’d be interested to know what other people think about this issue. Please feel free to leave comments on this blog entry.

2 Leave a Comment:

fidge said...

The fact that the Peruvian government is conducting a census so soon after the last one is 2005, is probably recognition of the fact that the more limited census conducted that year didn't provide it with the level of detail it required. How disruptive did it prove in the end, and has it added to the unpopularity of the government?

The Colour of Hope said...

It wasn't too bad in the end and Lima without traffic was quite a phenomenon! As far as I know it thankfully didn't get too militant and no one was arrested this time round!

I don't think it has added to the unpopularity of the government amongst middle and upper classes too much because people take things in their stride here much more than in the West. But it certainly hasn't helped to improve the image of the government for lower class families who were prevented from going to work that day.