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National census

Nov 09,2015 - Last updated at Nov 09,2015

It is accidentally convenient that the acronym for the Department of Statistics in Jordan is DOS. This was also the acronym used by International Business Machines (IBM) in the 1960s in reference to its computer operating system (DOS).

At the end of this November, the national census on population and housing is set to begin. The Statistics Law was amended in 2012 to impose such a census every decade.

The last one was conducted in 2004 (11 years ago) and showed that the population was then 5.1 million.

There are two new developments regarding the 2015 census. One is that the information collected will be registered electronically to enable the computers to do their magic in terms of speed and precision.

The other important development is the inclusion of Syrians residing in Jordan in the population count as permanent residents.

Since the government’s announcement about three months ago of its intention to conduct the census in November, its campaign to prove that there are no hidden agendas has been relentless.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour, the government’s official spokesman Mohammad Momani and Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Imad Fakhoury, under whose auspices DOS falls, among others, have continually explained that the main objective is to collect data on population and housing for the purpose of planning and shaping government’s decisions on social and economic issues.

This has always been the case in Jordan.

This is probably the fifth census I remember. Every time it was announced, the rumour mill began churning.

The public is generally dubious of such data collection. Often political or tax-related rumours are attached. Yet, every time the campaign succeeded and managed to achieve its goals.

In this year’s census, some labour data will be collected. Unemployment, the biggest hangover in Jordan, needs to be dealt with based on correct and comprehensive information.

The number of unknowns in this regard could misguide employment policies and strategies.

Family planning is also severely hampered by this information void.

IBM’s DOS and Jordan’s DOS are going to coincide in more than the acronym. Jordan is going electronic on its population census. Therefore, we should expect the results to be published at a reasonably early time.

People should also come to grips with the fact that Jordan is not unique in conducting population census. All countries of the world do that. 

The credibility gap between people and government in this regard should be bridged.


The writer, a former Royal Court chief and deputy prime minister, is a member of Senate. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.

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