By Lewis S Teh
The Liberia Institute for Geo-Information Services or LIGIS, discloses here that the upcoming March 2022 national census population enumeration exercise is not achievable due to lack of financial and logistical support.
As of December 7, 2021, a total of 13,354 enumeration areas across the country have been fully demarcated. Beyond this, 173 out of the 822 clans within the country are yet to be demarcated, so the mapping exercise will have to continue and tentatively end in February 2022.
“This along with financial and logistical challenges clearly indicate that the March 2022 date for the main census enumeration is no longer attainable or achievable”, says Mr. Alex M. Williams, census project coordinator of LIGIS.
Addressing reporters over the weekend at LISGIS head office in Monrovia during a news conference, Mr. Williams explained that the conduct of Liberia’s fifth population and housing census has been a long journey with cyclical movements at various points.
However, he notes there’s now a glimmer of hope than ever before for another milestone achievement, disclosing the project document was signed on October 8, 2019, with several joint resolutions released by the Legislature with the latest being on July 6, 2021, setting a new date to conduct the census.
He said the main objective of the 2022 census is to determine the present size and characteristics of the country’s population, its spatial distribution and location among counties, districts, cities, clans as well as among rural and urban areas with data disaggregated by income, sex, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics relevant in the national context.
Mr. Williams continued that the joint resolution gives the legal basis for the conduct of the census. Consequently, the training of GIS field mappers according to him was held in early 2020 but got disrupted as a result of the emergence of COVID-19.
He said in February 2021, almost one year after the disruption due to COVID- 19, a refresher training of GIS field mappers was held, and development launched in April 2021, adding that demarcations of enumeration areas are currently ongoing with over 13,354 areas already successfully demarcated beyond the project 10,500, saying this means the country and its international partners have come very close to milestone achievement.
He said the conduct of census entails a series of judiciously stratified layers of activities which are well interdependent, noting that one of the major activities before the enumeration is the Pre-Test or pilot, and added that at the moment, the number of enumeration areas demarcated is enough to be sample for the conduct of a Pre-Test.
“It is important to have a comprehensive evaluation of the Pre-Test result so that the forms, manual procedures can be improved prior to the main field enumeration”.
Meanwhile, Me. Williams says that conducting a Pre-Test is a practice undertaken for most population and housing census, adding that it is a comprehensive test for all census producers, concepts, tools, and materials.
According to him, Liberia participated in the 2010 round of population census and is desirous of continuing this tradition in the 2020 round (2015-2024) of population census, stressing that census data are used by both government and international partners for assessment and monitoring of development goals such as the Sustainable Development Goals or (SDGs) but also serves as benchmark data for administrative divisions within a country.
Liberia’s current population is 4.5 million with the youth consisting 60 percent, according to the 2008 National Housing and Population Census.