By Mark N. Mengonfia- firstname.lastname@example.org
MONROVIA-Liberia’s Vice President, Jewel Howard-Taylor has called on every Liberian to fully participate in the ongoing census process by returning to their various homes of counties of origin to be counted.
According to her, they should see reason to go back home or county of origin during the census to be counted in order to boost their community’s population and attract development and enforce the government’s decentralization program.
“Even if there’s a need to go to your county’s capital and get counted there, it will begin to shift the decentralization process as it is based on pure numbers. I want to encourage all of us as the team gets out, for you to go home and get counted,” the Liberian vice leader said recently at a program marking the official launch of the Liberia Institute for Statistic Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) deployment of Geographic mappers across Liberia.
LISGIS’s ongoing mapping process is in preparation of enumeration process of Liberians for Upcoming National Housing and Population Census expected his year or early next based on the recently request made by the institution to have the time adjusted.
According to the Liberian leader, based on the number of citizens recorded in a particular district, village, town or county is what drives developments in places.
VP Taylor urged they who have been entrusted to ensure that all is done to get accurate data that will be used for the development agenda of Liberia for the next ten years.
At the event which was held in Paynesville recently, the Government of Liberia led by Vice President, Jewel Howard-Taylor and its partners including the United Nations Fund for Population Activities UNFPA, the Embassies of Sweden and Ireland, she called on the mappers to fully exercise their duties adding that the success of the impending census rests on their commitment, honesty, and service to the nation.
This year’s upcoming census will be the first ever digital population and housing census since Liberia started the counting of its citizens.
House Speaker, Bhofal Chambers told the gathering of the importance of census as it drives development and called on the geographic mappers to be dutiful and careful as they go about the activities leaving to the real enumeration process.
“I believe you are clothed with the spirit of effervescence and seem to be vivacious and enthusiastic young people wanting to go and count our people. Census is necessary to predict how services can reach out to our people” House Speaker, Chambers said to the mappers looking their direction.
He Liberian Speaker went on to say, “We want to urge all of you to be dutiful, to be meticulous in your work so that our people can be counted.”
The official launching of the deployment of the mappers was done by Liberia’s Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Samuel D. Tweah, Jr. who pledged the government’s support to the process and revealed that US$1 million has been pay out to LISGIS in this current fiscal budget. According to him, they will make another request of US$1 million will be made to the Liberian legislature for LISGIS in the next six-month budget that begins July of this year and which will mark the transition to a calendar year budget.
The finance boss added that the Liberia 2021 National Population and Housing Census will be the first digital and most reliable census, and called for a sustained awareness through the media to ensure the entire populace is informed.
He said, “What we now know in the decade or more since we have that census, we believe that this census will be the most accurate, most up-to-date and most reliable in the history of the country; taking advantage of digital advances in technology.”
It has been more than 10 years since Liberia’s last conducted a national housing and population census back in 2008. The government is behind its constitutionally mandated time frame to conduct what will be Liberia’s second post-war census.
In July 2020, the Legislature adopted a Joint Resolution #003/2020 which set the date of the National Population and Housing Census on Monday, March 8, 2021. But the exercise was not held. Officials blamed the COVID-19 outbreak as reason behind the latest delay.
However, the LISGIS’ Director General, Prof. Francis Fonanyeneh Wreh, speaking at the event expressed optimism, saying “From all indications, the conduct of Liberia’s second post war census is at hand.”
Prof. Wreh said as part of its main functions and responsibilities, LISGIS is about to conduct the 5th National Population and Housing Census, and the first census to use digital technology after the 1962, 1974, 1984, and the 2008 censuses.
This, he noted is being made successful with support from the Government of Liberia, UNFPA, the World Bank, Governments of Sweden and Ireland and other development partners.
“From all indications, the conduct of Liberia’s second post war census is at hand. The law permits it, and the urgency demands it. The country’s readiness goes back to the signing of the Census Project Document with partners in October 2019.”
He also pointed out that as the Government of Liberia continues to present programs aimed at accelerating its agenda, the need for evidenced based decision making is of high consideration; and the successful implementation of these programs require a reliable and regularly updated data, representing the various characteristics of the population, comparable to both regional and international development plan.
Despite the deployment of the geographic mappers and implementations of series of activities for a successful conduct of Liberia Census 2021, a specific date for the census is yet to be announced.
Speaking at the event, the Resident Representative of UNFPA, Dr. Bannet Ndyanabangi seized the moment to call on the Legislature to issue a new proclamation since the March 8, 2021 date did not hold.
“We would count on the Speaker and the House of Representatives as well as the President Pro-Tempore and the Liberian Senate to issue a new proclamation on the new date for the conduct of the census, commonly called “census Day”. Due to COVID 19, the date set in the Proclamation has elapsed and the new date is now urgently awaited,” he urged.
But Speaker Chambers, in respond said the resolution should first derive from the Executive before it can be acted upon by the Legislature.
The UNFPA’s boss also called on Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah, who serves as Chairman of LISGIS’ Board of Directors to rally his colleagues from all Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) to nominate technical staff on the Census Technical and Steering Committees, and also for his leadership of the Census Commissioners Forum.
According to him, these committees provide oversight and necessary accountability and transparency, and stakeholders’ buy-in.
The UNFPA has been one of the strong and reliable partner of the Government of Liberia in designing the census project to provide complete coverage of support, utilizing agencies’ comparative advantage to achieve the overall goal of strengthening data systems in Liberia.
Dr. Ndyanabangi said, since the partnership, a lot has been achieved including the acquisition of state-of-the-art technology, Satellite Imagery for Liberia, Google Cloud Storage Services, Survey 123 application; Tablets, Vehicles, and human expertise are all in place.
He congratulated them for availing themselves for the great and critical task, adding “You are the privileged ones, having been selected from thousands around the country and trained with the latest technology.”
He thanked the Embassies of Sweden ad Ireland, the World Bank, ECOWAS, the Government of Liberia, and the United Nations System in Liberia for their financial support.