Liberia: Census Postponed to November 22

Wilmot F. Smith, Jr, Acting Director-General of LISGIS

Liberia’s fifth and first digital National Population and Housing Census (NPHC) has been postponed from October 24 to November 22.

With just four days to its kick-off on October 24, the extension of the Census took place on October 20 by fifteen (15) days was a consensual decision reached during a leadership meeting with authorities of the  Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) and the head of Liberia's Census Fund the UNFPA.

The closed-door consultative meeting compelled the House of Representatives to defer its Thursday session to today ( October 21). House Speaker Bhofal Chambers told journalists assigned to the Legislature that all parties agreed to the extension, amidst allegations of irregularities that had characterized the process.

“The 15-day adjustment seeks to ensure to address all the irregularities preceding the conduct of the census by November 22, 2022,” the Speaker said.

Resolution of Deferment 

The House o is expected to draft a Joint Resolution today in session, for at least one-fourth of its membership — 19 lawmakers — to sign and then forward to the Senate for the concurrence of eight Senators to affix signatures. It is not clear, legislatively in Liberia, whether the Joint Resolution to alter the date of the Census will require the approval of the President.

But it may be recalled that President George M. Weah, on September 14, signed into law the conduct of the first digital Census from October 24 to November 7, 2022. The first four censuses were held in 1962, 1974, 1984, and 2008 and revealed how the population had increased differently, beginning at 1.1 million, to 1.5, to 2.1, and to 3.5 million, respectively.

The President’s approval followed a Joint Resolution from the Senate and House of Representatives of the 54th Legislature authorizing the Executive Branch of Government to conduct the National Census from October 24 to November 7, 2022.

Previously in August, the Senate voted for the Census to be held from March 18-30, 2023; but President Weah recalled the Legislature for a 30-day Special Sitting in which he implored the lawmakers, stressing that there are available substantial financial resources to conduct the Census, whereas the geographical mapping has been completed and the pilot Census has been conducted with results informing the preparation of the actual census, among others. With these achievements, he said, further postponement of the Census from October 2022 would have far reaching consequences for the Census Project.

On September 1, the Senate backtracked and set a new Census date from October 24 to November 7, 2022; and then the House of Representatives concurred.  This census, if held on November 22, will be the fifth national census but the first digital census, which is expected to provide significant insights for development planning.