Stats-SA undertakes survey to see how Covid-19 has affected South Africans
The survey is being conducted on the organisation’s website. Stats SA appealed for public participation when it launched the online survey this week.
Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke said: “Accurate, real-time statistics are of utmost importance in times of crisis. These surveys will be used to see how Covid-19 has impacted the population, and will be used by government to inform their strategy going forward. For us to win this fight, the decisions we make must be evidence-based.”
People can respond to the questions anonymously. The questions focus on three areas: health behaviour; employment and income-related issues that include hunger; and education (home schooling and how people use their time). The results will be released next week.
This survey comes after Stats SA on Tuesday released the results of a survey that focused on business. It was conducted over two weeks and had response from 707 businesses.
“The survey showed that 85.4% of responding businesses had turnover that was lower than their normal range; 1.3% reported that turnover was higher than their normal range; and 13.3% reported that turnover was within their normal range,” the report said.
Sixty-five percent of the respondents anticipated that the pandemic would have a worse impact on them than the financial crisis of 2008/09.
The research also found that 30.6% of businesses had indicated they could last less than a month, while 54% said they could survive between one and three months. About half said they would lay off workers in the short-term or decrease working hours.
The Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group and an economist criticised the online survey.
While the group’s programme director, Mervyn Abrahams, said the online survey would be useful to policymakers, he felt it would not be accessible to all South Africans as not everyone had access to computers, smartphones or data.
”Data, as we have argued for so long, is extremely expensive in SA and it will be unaffordable for poor and working-class South Africans to participate in the survey. The results will therefore be skewed towards those who can afford data and the reality of poor and working-class South Africans will be lost,” he said.
Abrahams understood that Stats SA could not send out researchers to meet people during the lockdown, but he expected the organisation to point out the challenges it faced in gathering data and that the results could reflect the challenges of the middle class only.
Economist Professor Bonke Dumisa agreed. He felt it should also be noted that it was rare that research perfectly represented a population.
Dumisa added that Stats SA had the largest database of any research organisation in the country.
Further, he said the big challenge the country was facing was a balancing act between people’s lives and livelihoods.
Dumisa pointed to people in the informal sector, such as carpenters, who might come back to a dead market when the lockdown was lifted.