OpEd, Politics

Exposing the flaws in the population estimation survey

Gama Hassan Oscas

The unveiling of the South Sudan population estimation survey, which purports a total population of 12,444,017 individuals within the nation’s borders, has raised more than just eyebrows—it has ignited a blaze of criticism and skepticism. The report, spearheaded by Isaiah Chol Aruai, the chairperson of the National Bureau of Statistics, is marred by glaring oversights, selective omissions, and questionable motives. By neglecting to account for deaths, unrecorded daily fatalities, infant mortality rates, poor health sector conditions, and other crucial variables, this report paints a rosy picture of the Country that dangerously ignores the nation’s pressing challenges.

One of the most troubling aspects of this estimation report is the conspicuous absence of accounting for deaths. The years 2013 and 2016, marked by violent conflict and loss of life, cannot be glossed over or brushed aside. Ignoring these monumental events, which had a direct impact on the population’s composition, undermines the accuracy and credibility of the entire estimation process. The failure to address these deaths reflects a disregard for historical realities and casts a shadow of doubt over the integrity of the report.

Even more alarming is the omission of unrecorded daily deaths stemming from intercommunal violence, insurgencies, poverty, hunger, and disease. The country’s tragic daily toll, exacerbated by these factors, cannot be ignored in any credible population estimation. By failing to capture these grim realities, the report portrays a skewed and incomplete version of South Sudan’s demographic landscape. It disregards the hardships faced by the people on a daily basis and paints an inaccurate picture of the challenges that the nation grapples with.

The infant mortality rate and the dire state of the health sector within South Sudan are critical factors that should have played a pivotal role in this estimation. A nation’s health sector and its infant mortality rate are indicative of its overall well-being and development. The omission of these factors underscores a failure to capture the true essence of South Sudan’s population dynamics. By sidestepping these crucial variables, the report disregards the significance of these indicators and ultimately betrays a lack of comprehensiveness and accuracy.

Isaiah Chol Aruai’s assertion that this estimation is aimed solely at assisting government policymaking and budgeting, without any election-related intent, should not be taken at face value. Governments have a long history of manipulating population data to advance their political agendas, often during election cycles. The timing of this report’s release, coupled with the lack of transparency surrounding its methodology and data sources, raises suspicions about the potential political motivations behind these figures. The report’s claim of apolitical intent rings hollow in a context where population data is frequently weaponized for political gains.

The most damning critique of this estimation stems from its lack of consideration for fundamental data sources—birth and death registers, and an immigration tracking system. These components are the bedrock of any credible population estimation, as they provide the essential data needed for accuracy. The South Sudanese government’s inability to provide accurate, up-to-date records seriously undermines the report’s validity. Constructing a population estimate without these foundational elements is akin to building a house without a solid foundation—it is destined to collapse under scrutiny.

Furthermore, the assertion that the population has surged from 8.26 million in 2008 to 12,444,017, demands rigorous examination. Such a substantial increase of approximately 4.18 million individuals in just over a decade defies logic. The claim that the estimation was conducted solely to aid the government in policymaking and budgeting, devoid of any election-related motives, is rendered dubious by the staggering size of this population spike. The timing of this release, coupled with the lack of transparency in methodology, invites skepticism and raises valid questions about the motivations behind this estimation.

South Sudan population estimation survey is not only flawed but also deceptive in its presentation. By omitting critical factors such as deaths, unrecorded daily fatalities, infant mortality rates, and the health sector’s status, the report offers a distorted representation of the nation’s demographic landscape.

Isaiah Chol Aruai’s disavowal of political motivations does not alleviate concerns, particularly in light of the historical misuse of population data for political ends. The glaring absence of comprehensive data sources, coupled with the staggering increase in population figures, further erodes the report’s credibility.

South Sudan, a nation striving for stability and development, deserves accurate and transparent population figures that truly reflect its challenges, aspirations, and realities. A credible population estimation should account for deaths, challenges, and the nation’s historical context. Anything less diminishes the pursuit of truth and the nation’s progress. As citizens seek a brighter future, they should not be subjected to reports that obscure the truth and, potentially, serve political agendas. A transparent, comprehensive, and accurate estimation is a fundamental right—one that South Sudan should demand, as it strives for a more transparent and accountable governance.

The author of this article is an advocate and can be reached on email at: oscarsgama@gmail.com


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