GOL & Partners Upbeat about Census -Despite Challenges

MONROVIA – The Government of Liberia and development partners stakeholders have expressed optimism in the conduct of the ongoing 2022 National Population and Housing Census throughout the country despite some of the challenges being experienced in delivering the realistic figure that will used for development purposes for the country.

The position of the government and that of the partners was made known yesterday, November 21, 2022 at LISGIS Head office through Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor and some representatives of Liberia’s development partners at a forum presided over by the Vice President where officials of the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) provided updates on the status of the census counting, as well as the challenges and prospects for a successful outcome of the census.

“We want to thank the Board and management of LISGIS as well as our development partners and others for continuing the process; and it was important that after our last meeting It is good that we are meeting today to see where we are.

“Thanks to the Government of Liberia and our partners for solving the issue of the financial gaps hindering the process. It is good the issues were resolved by the President and we can now move to have the statistics that we will need as we have not had census done since 2008, and so, all of the development programs that our President has need these numbers. We just need to encourage everyone to stay engaged”, Vice President Taylor said.

The Vice President who has been very proactive in recent times since the census count said there was a need to do more information dissemination which she identified as key areas where fall out has been experienced.

She maintained that the census count is a process and not an event and that there was a need to ensure different events that take place to this process to assure the citizenry, because as the census is ongoing, people are being counted and there have been many success stories at different places.

Madam Howard Taylor admitted from what has been gathered from the field there were still some pockets needed to be worked on, and hoped that by Friday, November 25, challenges such as lack of phones, network connectivity and payment of hired ad-hoc staff in the process will be sorted out.

“This process which has been agreed to by the President Dr. George Manneh Weah and supported by the Government of Liberia and our international partners is at full steam. We look forward to the final numbers, these numbers are critical to our next development plans and we hope that everyone takes time to get counted,” she stated.

Earlier, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Samuel D. Tweah, Jr, who is also Chairman of the Board of LISGIS, said at the last meeting held with the development partners and LISGIS, there was some budgetary implications. He said the steering committee submitted last Friday an additional budget of $1.6m which the government promised to pay $800k and the World Bank will pay the other portion of $800k. He said the government quota will be paid through the normal government procurement process.

“So everything about the financial gap has been resolved and we can now move full speed”, he said.

Taking the floor to make their presentation, the head of LISGIS technical team while rolling out the roadmap which they said is programmed to end by December 2, 2022, provided more insights and critical issues which they said centered around payment of census workers and other challenges that hampered deployment of ad-hoc staff.

He said there were payment hitches which he attributed to the staff because some of them provided mobile numbers that were not enrolled with their own names and when the banks detected that, the payments were stopped.

He said 388 persons out of the 799 representing 48.6% with failed transactions were contacted and their accounts were corrected while 14, 336 enumerators representing 86.8% out of the 16,505 were paid out

The team said while some counties had smooth deployment in the administrative census districts, other counties had challenges, including Bomi which has only 3 out of the 5 districts deployed; Bong 11 out of12; Gbarpolu 5 out of 6; Margibi 4 out of 5;, Rivercess 7 out of 8; while Montserrado County had an appreciable number of deployment. He said the rest of the counties recorded 100% deployment and the total deployment is 146 out of the 160 administrative districts.

The team further said technical problems associated with poor internet connectivity and the gadgets supplied for the process were all Lonestar compliant, and where enumerators encountered problems with the network, they used hotspots from Orange GSM service.

The team ended with the summary report that so far, 35,991 persons have been counted and that only 175, 125 households listing has been done.

Some of the development partners who asked a few questions at the end of the presentation however expressed optimism that the exercise will yield the desired results despite the challenges, noting that there should be regular updates to enable the citizens and stakeholders to get involved.

Some of the development partners present included the UN Resident Coordinator in Liberia, Niels Scott; EU Ambassador to Liberia, Laurent Delahouse; Claire Buckley, Irish Ambassador to Liberia’ Urban Sjostrom, Swedish Ambassador to Liberia; UNFPA Country Representative Bidisha Pillai; representative from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), among others.

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