Opposition Senator Crystal Drakes believes that the ongoing Population and Housing Census has significant implications for the island’s future.
“A census is important when running a country’s affairs since it covers matters like age, gender, income status and religious beliefs of a population, so you can gauge how to accommodate the needs of people appropriately,” she said during Wednesday’s Senate session.
“But one of the dilemmas associated with them is that the data gathered does not always connect with the Government’s policies. This may be because the data for certain things does not exist, it may be outdated, or sometimes it is not shared.
“For example, our Statistical Department does not share information by geographical location. So, for example, it is not possible to find out whether there are differences in income between people living in St Lucy compared to those in Christ Church.”
Senator Drakes added that the question of where Barbados wanted to go in the next ten years was especially important now as the island prepares to become a republic later this year, as well as in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID has been an ‘earthquake’ in our society and has shown up institutional problems, for example, in terms of the National Insurance Scheme and its ability to pay the workers displaced by the pandemic.
“Another issue we must look at seriously is climate change and two areas that are extremely important in this respect are access to food and water. For example, there are a lot of derelict buildings all over the country. Why don’t we put some of these buildings into use as ‘grow houses’ where we can plant certain food crops?” she questioned.
Senator Drakes contended that the census will “let us know how many of these buildings exist, whether they can be used in this manner, and will identify people who are living in adverse conditions who can be trained train to work in this food programme”.
“This will increase food production, introduce more technology as well as rely on local knowledge and will be a form of community service and provide people with meaningful work,” she added. (DH)