False Impression at Its Peak at LISGIS, Census Hangs
Despite warnings from some members of the Legislature, about challenges being faced by the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo‑Information (LISGIS), to conduct the National Population and Housing Census across the 15 political Sub-division, the President ignored the visible signs; declared on November 11, 2022, as a National Census Day to be observed throughout the country.
Before the declaration of “National Census Day”, several protests were carried out by some aggrieved enumerators who also threatened to seize electronic gadgets and boycott the data collection process if they do not receive their payments.
Others believe that the President was ill-advised. Key among them is Rep. Larry Younquoi, a renowned demographer who argued that the entire process is marred by irregularities, ranging from poor recruitment, poor and uncoordinated training, the inadequate logistical endowment of LISGIS’s county offices, chaotic payment process of census workers, among others.
Rep. Younquoi in an eleventh-hour bid to postpone the Census said, the President may have been ill-advised to issue the proclamation; terming his decision as disturbing and insensitive to the challenges the institution is being faced with.
Earlier in a communication addressed to the Plenary of the Liberian Senate, President George Weah had also informed the house to extend the time of the census as there were financial challenges at LISGIS for which the Census across the 15 political Sub-division of Liberia, should be pushed from its original date to a later one.
Based on the president’s communication, the Plenary of the Liberian Senate on November 4, 2022. concurred to sign a joint resolution extending the National Population and Housing Census which should have started on October 21, 2022, by an additional two weeks beginning November 7 to November 22, 2022.
The Proclamation called on all ministries and agencies of government, enterprises (Large or small), the patriotism and loyalty of every citizen, and the goodwill of every foreign national as well as local government officials to assist the census authorities in explaining, influencing, and endorsing the participation of everybody in this massive, national undertaking, given the advantages and usefulness of the Census to the overall national socio-economic development of the country.
As was declared by the commander-in-chief, Liberians staying at home on that day, expressed their excitement of being counted after fourteen years of waiting to be part of history,
K-news taking a tour across Montserrado and Margibi Counties encountered several citizens who explained the importance of the day.
However, no one citizen was counted on the first day of the census.
Late Friday evening, the Legislature passed a joint resolution authorizing the Executive Branch of government to extend the census in the eleventh hours when citizens had stayed home all day eagerly waiting to be counted.
Excerpt from the legislature late Friday evening: “the 54th Legislature has passed a joint resolution 003/2022, authorizing the Executive Branch to extend the conduct of the National census from November 7, 2022, up to January 15, 2023.”
The Legislature also appropriated an additional amount of US$200,000 to LISGIS to address the current challenges that the body is faced with.
However, the Government of Liberia and International Partners have reaffirmed their commitment to the successful conduct of the 2022 National Population and Housing Census by the Government which runs from11 to 22 November 2022.
In a joint press release issued late Friday, the Liberian Government and its partners including the UN, World Bank, the Embassy of Sweden, and USAID said the population and housing census is among the most complex and massive peacetime exercises a nation can undertake; adding that a census, as mandated within the Constitution, involves the complete enumeration of the population in a country.
The census, according to the Government and its partners, generates a wealth of data, including numbers of people, their spatial distribution, age, and sex structure, as well as their living conditions and other key socioeconomic characteristics.
These data are critical for good governance, policy formulation, development planning, crisis prevention, mitigation and response, social welfare program, and business market analyses, among others.
They said: “Given this, the International Community wishes to encourage all not to politicize or disrupt the ongoing 2022 National Population and Housing Census. We have observed dismay calls by some elements within the country to boycott the Census.
Despite some initial challenges, the Census is now on track and has commenced as of 11 November 2022.”
Any further disruption, they warned, “would lead to delays in, or possible abortion, of the Census which will benefit no one.
The Partners, led by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), are providing technical and financial support to the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services, the agency of the Government with the authority to conduct Census taking, to ensure the census house listing and enumeration is completed within the timeframe of 11- 22 November 2022 as announced by the Government.
The release further noted that the International Partner support is aimed at ensuring that the 2022 National Population and Housing Census is of high quality and upholds international principles and standards. The unique advantage of the census is that it represents the entire statistical universe, down to the smallest geographical/ administrative area of a country or region.
“The Government of Liberia and its International partners wish to appeal to all citizens, residents, and visitors to peacefully support the ongoing 2022 National Population and Housing Census by welcoming the Census Enumerators to their homes and facilities and 2 allow them to do their work.”
“Remember that Census takes place every 10 years and the process gives an individual the opportunity to be heard and counted. So let’s make this Census count.”
The census has been marred by a series of controversies that began with scathing allegations of corruption by an official of LISGIS against his colleagues, followed by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission’s indictment of the current officials and the chaotic census enumerators’ recruitment process.