— New electoral districts expected
The Senate has concurred with the House of Representatives on the adoption of Resolution #003/2020 to conduct the National Population and Housing Census on Monday, March 8, 2021.
The Senate adopted the Resolution on Friday, July 3, 2020.
“I have the honor to present my compliments and, by directive of the Liberian Senate (In Session), forward hereto attached, Senate’s Endorsement to House’s Joint Resolution #003/2020 Entitled: “Joint Resolution #003/2020 of the Senate and House of Representatives Authorizing the Executive Branch of the Government to Conduct the 2021 National Census of the Republic of Liberia,” Secretary of the Senate J. Nanborlor Singbeh, Sr., notified the House of Representatives.
The House of Representatives on June 23, 2020, the 35th day sitting, adopted the Resolution, which the Senate concurred with nine (9) days later.
The 2021 National Census, expected to be the fifth in Liberia’s 172-year history, is likely to reveal the country’s constantly growing population. The first four modern censuses were held in 1962, 1974, 1984 and 2008, revealed trends of the nation’s population growth, beginning at 1.1 million, to 1.5 million, 2.1 million and 3.5 million respectively.
This round of census, was postponed in violation of the Constitution, which mandates in Article 39: “The Legislature shall cause a census of the Republic to be undertaken every ten years.”
However, the Legislature, through a Joint Resolution, postponed the 2018 National Census to 2019 and then finally was agreed upon to be held on March 8, 2021.
The upcoming Census is expected to be the first census to use digital technology at all phases of preparation, geographic planning, census-taking, data management, processing, tabulation, publication, archiving and dissemination, according to Professor Francis Fonanyeneh Wreh, Director-General, Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS), the arm of the Liberian Government statutorily responsible for the exercise.
According to DG Wreh the census, which should have been held in 2018 by law, was delayed due to “untimely and inadequate funding. This is one major reason why the 10-year periodicity of census taking as enshrined in the United Nations Principles and Recommendations, was slightly exceeded.” He added, however, “We are still operating within the 2020 Round of Population and Housing Censuses (2015 – 2024).”
He told the gathering that his institution, working along with the specialized UN organ, the United Nations Fund for Population (UNFPA), developed a comprehensive Census Project Document (CPD) that will serve as source for support and resource mobilization for all processes of the 2021 Census undertaking.
According to Wreh, the cost of the census is US$18,880,533.94.
He called on Liberia’s development partners to participate in this massive project that promises to make available tools for development policymaking, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of development programming.
“This document covers the evaluation of the 2021 Census processes, the expected structure of the 2021 National Population and Housing Census Secretariat, roles and responsibilities of different census committees, the institutional capacity assessment of the National Statistics Office (NSO) for a successful conduct of the census in order to find response to need requirements and to proactively fill the gaps.”
According to him, together with UNFPA, LISGIS has been able to finalize important items including the CPD, census budget analysis and census operations, census activity detail, census advocacy concept note, advocacy and communication strategy, census project implementation manual, assessment of the statistical capacity of LISGIS, guidelines for selection of technologies for Liberia 2021 NPHC, a six-month census fast track work plan and report of the second nationwide assessment for statistical capacity.
Meanwhile, there are reports that counties with increased populations will lead to the creation of new electoral districts. The number of people counted and their demographics guide how voting districts are demarcated or redrawn for the House of Representatives every 10 years.
The 2008 National Census resulted in the creation of 11 new seats in the House of Representatives, which proved that, for the first time in 24 years, Liberia carried out a census in 2008. The challenges were daunting, but the results are useful.
In a brief telephone interview on Tuesday, the former Director General of LISGIS, Dr. Edward Liberty, told the Daily Observer “that, knowing the population size of the country, every 10 years is constitutional and, at the end of the conduct of every census, there are NEW voting districts.”
“I want to thank the Legislature for the approval and want to urge the LISGIS boss to be professional in conducting the census and leave out politics.”