Liberia: “It’s a Process, Not an Event”

VP Howard-Taylor, third from left on the high table with Ambassador of the European Union to Liberia Laurent Delahousse, Finance, and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah, first from left looks on

.... VP Taylor calls for calm on the ongoing census across the country

Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor has assured citizens that the census is ongoing, stating that it is a process and not an event.

“As I said days ago, this is an entire process, not an event and we are making sure that this process will enable us to assure our citizens that the census is ongoing, people are being counted and there are very very many success stories coming from the different places that have been enumerated,” she said.

According to the Vice President, the total number of people counted so far is 35,991 or 5% of the country’s estimated population of 5 million people, while the listing of households is estimated at 175,125 or 11%.

The counting and all other processes in relation to the conduct of the census will be completed by December 2, and those areas that have not been counted will be reached and people will be enumerated by Nov 28, Howard-Taylor said at a press conference yesterday. 

 “We know that with the finance payments made, we are hoping that by Nov 28 latest, those areas that have difficulties will be covered.  Some people have telephones that are not attached to their names.  So funds cannot be sent to them for a few other technical issues, but we hope to resolve them by this Friday.”

“So, those who are in the field, we want to encourage you to continue doing what you are doing. The supervisors will get to those who have not yet gotten paid,” she said. 

The Vice President’s assurance comes as the ongoing census, conducted by the Institute for Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS), got off to a shaky start, leading to public criticism against the LISGIS leadership. 

LISGIS has so far faced questioning regarding its recruitment of enumerators, inadequate deployment of census materials, as well as payment of enumerators. 

Since the country’s last census was held in 2008, the next census should have been conducted by 2018, the first year of the George Weah administration. However, the government has struggled to host the census years as mandated by, the country’s 1986 Constitution

This year’s census, however, is the first in 15 years and is expected to produce new constituencies in the run-up to the Liberian general and presidential elections in 2023.

The lack of a census then means that the country's government has been missing out on accurate data, which is essential to inform economic planning, development, enforcement, and policy decisions.

The 2008 census registered a total count of 3.5 million people, while the three prior censuses ever conducted in the history of Liberia — recorded 1.1 million people in  1962; 1.5 million in 1974, and 2.1 million in 1984. 

Weeks ago, LISGIS, Acting Director General Wilmot Smith, and the Deputy Director General for Statistics and Data Processing, Alex M. Williams were sacked by President George Weah for “Negligence and Unseriousness”, as a result of huge public outcry as it relates to the handling of the census, which has led to serious public criticism.

Meanwhile, the Vice President has disclosed that there are over 16,000 enumerators in the field, while 14,000 of them have already received their funding — leaving a small gap of about 8,000 persons who have not gotten paid.

“But plans have been put in place to ensure that they get their pay by Friday, November 25. Going forward, LISGIS will start a full, robust communication strategy to inform citizens on activities at LISGIS,” Howard- Taylor explained. “There will be regular briefings so the country will be aware of where we are, what's happening, who's being counted. We hope that the numbers being used will ensure that everyone is being counted.” 

“We hope this process can continue towards the first week of December 2022, where we will now have ninety percent of people being counted.”