Don't get excited, gentlemen, it's not seven women to one man

Ken Chaplin

Tuesday, October 23, 2012    

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HOLD your excitement, gentlemen. The population ratio between men and women is not one man to seven women, as many Jamaican men believe. That's a myth, says Dr Valerie Nam, director of Censuses, Demographics and Statistics, at the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN).

The 2011 Population and Housing Census shows that of the population of 2, 697,983, females numbered 1,363,450 and males 1,334,533, a difference of 28,916 in favour of females. So if anything, females have the edge. But the male population is catching up.

Between 2001 and 2011 (the census is taken every 10 years), the male population grew faster (four per cent) than the female population (three per cent).

The excess of women over men dropped quite considerably from 40,538 in 2001 to 28,917 in 2011. The result was an increase in sex ratio (the number of males per 100 females) from 96.9 per 100 in 2001 to 97.9 in 2011. At the same time, the parish data shows that the number of parishes where the number of men exceeded the number of women increased from seven in 2001 to 10 in 2011. The traditional male-dominated parishes of St Ann, Trelawny, Hanover, Westmoreland, St Elizabeth, Manchester and Clarendon have now been joined by St Mary, Portland and Kingston. In St Thomas, men and women are almost equally numbered. The increase in the sex ratio in Kingston may be attributed to the large institutional male population, the census findings say. The female-dominated parishes were St Andrew with the lowest sex ratio of 91.7, St Catherine 96.7 and St James 96.9.

The census plays an essential role in all elements of the national statistical system, including the economic components. It is critical to planning. The first report of the 2011 census covers population: age, sex, ethnicity, marital status and religious affiliation. It also covers housing: tenure of dwelling, availability and type of toilet, kitchen and toilet facilities, fuel used for cooking, source of lighting, source of water for domestic use, type of water for drinking, method of disposal of solid waste, availability of telephone and other communication devices and facilities.

One of the outstanding features of the report of the census is a summary of its findings.

Under population size and growth, the findings say, among other things:

The count of the population based on the Population and Housing Census 2011 is 2,697,983. The total comprises 2,678,629 people in private dwellings,18,420 in institutions and 934 people enumerated on the streets. The total represents a 3.5 per cent increase in nine and a half years since the 200l census over the count of 2,607,632 at that census. This increase represents an average annual rate of growth of only 0.36 per cent since 2001 and continues the reduction in annual rate of growth observed since the l970s. In numerical terms, the addition to the population between 2001 and 2011 was less than 100,000. Average annual absolute increase over the period was 9,500 compared to 21,800 between 1991 and 2001. To me this is a good thing, for a high increase of the population puts pressure on the already limited social educational and medical facilities and causes problems.

The matter of water supply has always been on top of the agenda in Jamaica, so the findings on water supply will be of interest to many people. The census shows that in 2011, 79 per cent of households had access to piped water. More than one half - 57 per cent of all households - had water piped into the house, 16 per cent had it piped into the yard and six per cent received from a standpipe. A catchment, public or private, usually a tank or a well, was the main source for 19,100 households, representing 11 per cent of total households.

Approximately 31,300 households, or four per cent, obtained water from a spring or river, while trucked water was the main source for an estimated 92,200 households. The comparative data from the 2001 census reflect an increase in the proportion of households with access to water piped into the house and a decline in the proportion with access to the yard only. Use of standpipe has also fallen from 18 per cent in 2001 to six per cent in 2011.

Therefore, as I see it, the water to households has improved. However, there are many instances across the country where for years there has been no water in the pipe and residents have to carry water by pans on their heads from springs or rivers or receive supplies from trucks. Two such places that I know of are Arlington in St Elizabeth and parts of Stony Hill in St Andrew. The National Water Authority is now carrying out extensive improvement to the Stony Hill area. In Arlington there are pipes but no water, because the source of supply is dry.

As far as the main type of water for drinking is concerned, the question was introduced in 2011 with the categories identified concerned as bottled, treated piped water, untreated piped water, treated water from another source and untreated water from another source. Treated means that the water is boiled, filtered or bleached before drinking. The main type of water for drinking by the majority of households in 2011 (57 per cent) was untreated piped water. This is dangerous. About 24 per cent of households treated water from any source before drinking. Bottled water was the main source of drinking water for approximately 66,800 households, representing eight per cent of the total.

Water has not come into the pipes in the community where I live in Stony Hill for about five years, except for about two weeks. Most of the water is delivered by National Water Commission trucks to plastic tanks on premises mostly every week. Yet I boil it as my drinking water. I would encourage others to do the same.

STATIN is to be commended for a difficult job well done.



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