UNFPA differs with ex-staff Ibrahim M. Sesay
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) distances itself from opinions expressed in series of audio releases in the media here, attributed to one of its former staff, Mr. Ibrahim M. Sesay.
According to UNFPA, Mr. Sesay’s tenure as Chief Technical Adviser for the National Population and Housing Census with UNFPA ended on 26 August 2022 but notes that prior to becoming Chief Technical Adviser for the Census in August 2021, Mr. Sesay served as Technical Data Specialist for Reproductive Health Commodity Security as well as Census Operations Manager during the 2008 National Population and Housing Census in Liberia.
Mr. Sesay has appeared in audio recordings broadcast by various media outlets in the country, including Spoon Talk, a live online broadcast, in which he is heard criticizing and accusing authorities of the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) of corruption and incompetence.
However, in a statement signed by Resident Representative Ms. Bidisha Pillai, the UN Agency says while it has not verified that the voice in the audio circulating in the local media is that of the former Chief Technical Adviser for the Census, it believes the release of such allegations at a time when frantic efforts by many collaborating partners are being made to ensure successful count of the population of Liberia, is counterproductive.
“Population and housing census is among the most complex and massive peacetime exercises a nation can undertake. It requires careful planning, resourcing, and implementation – from mapping an entire country, mobilizing and training large numbers of enumerators, and conducting major public awareness campaigns to canvassing all households, carefully monitoring census activities, and analyzing, disseminating, and using the resulting data”, Ms. Pillai explains.
She underscores that a census involves the complete enumeration of the population in a country, territory, or area and should be conducted at least once every ten years, adding “It generates a wealth of data, including numbers of people, their spatial distribution, age, and sex structure, as well as their living conditions and other vital socioeconomic characteristics.”
The UNFPA Resident Representative continues that these data are critical for good governance, policy formulation, development planning, crisis prevention, mitigation and response, social welfare programmes, and business market analyses, among others.
UNFPA says it provides technical and financial support to ensure that censuses are of high quality, uphold international principles and standards, and produce widely disseminated and utilized data for development.
According to Ms. Pillai, since the signing of the National Population and Housing Census Project Document for Liberia on 08 October 2019, UNFPA has been working closely with the Government of Liberia through the Liberia Institute of Statistics and GeoInformation Services (LISGIS) to ensure that the census is implemented meeting international standards and practices; especially the use of technology to improve data quality, timeliness, and accessibility.
She thanks partners, including the Government of Liberia, the Embassy of Sweden, the Embassy of Ireland, the World Bank, the United States Government through USAID, and sister UN entities for the support and partnership to ensure successful conduct of a credible National Population and Housing Census here. Editing by Jonathan Browne