Preparatory activities for the 2015 Sierra Leone Population and Housing Census have re- commenced. The recommencement is premised on the fact that the Ebola epidemic that accounted for the postponement of the Census in 2014 has drastically subsided.
With the greater optimism that the virus will be history in a matter of weeks, Statistics Sierra Leone and partners are now poised to conduct the census and deliver accurate and credible data that would serve as a reference point for every major policy decision – as in health, education, agriculture, employment etc.
The census process has ignited a lot of debate with some quarters charging that the process has or will attract political interference. While we did not ignore such serious allegations, we were able to conclude that people needed more education on the Census process as a sure way of minimizing the misconceptions. It was clear some individuals or institutions have paid little or no attention to processes and procedures, hence their ambivalences. We have revised our communications and advocacy strategies for a robust campaign that will ensure Sierra Leoneans, regardless of their leanings or physical locations appreciate, participate, and own the process. Yes, if everyone MUST be counted, everyone MUST get the message.
Shortly, we are re-advertising and an advert for the recruitment of various levels of field staff will be out in the print and electronic media. Extra efforts will be made to ensure qualified Sierra Leoneans in communities with little or no media access get the information and apply. The decision to re-advertise stems from the fact that many of the previous applicants may no longer be available or interested. In any case, we will remain ardent disciples of the local content policy. Thus; recruiting qualified resident indigenes is non-negotiable.
Let it be known however that our mandate is not to provide jobs but to collect, compile analyse and disseminate credible statistics. To this end, our appetite to have the most competent on our team remains insatiable.
We are finalizing key census instruments like the questionnaire, manuals and digitized Enumeration Area (EA) Maps. The questionnaire will include new demographic variables such as those that will capture the impact of Ebola on the health and socio-economic status of Sierra Leoneans – thanks to a well-represented Census Technical Committee. There is visible commitment from donors and the government of Sierra Leone to support the Census.
The 2015 Census will provide benchmark data for the acceleration of MDGs as well as help us monitor the implementation of development programmes by government, donor partners and even the private sector.
It is therefore the responsibility of every Sierra Leonean to ensure a successful census. Our seriousness as a nation is not judged by the types of policies we make but by how far we go to implement them. The 2015 Population and Housing Census is a government policy.
Therefore, our failure to embrace it could mean the antithesis of what we want to achieve as a nation that is still struggling with the aftershocks of a devastating war judged as the most atrocious in modern times.
The Census enumeration is from the 5th to the 18th December 2015.
“Be Counted for Better Planning”
© Samuel Serry Jr.