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Stats SL Commences Mid-Term Census Preparedness

The 2020 Mid-Term Population and Housing Census Technical Committee last week Thursday met at their Momoh Street headquarters in Freetown to discuss pertinent issues relating to the upcoming Mid-Term Population and Housing Census scheduled for December 2020.

The maiden meeting brought together all technical nominees of the various line Ministries, Departments and Agencies as well as those of the Universities and Non-Governmental Organisations. The UN Country Teams and Embassy representatives attended.

 The National Census Coordinator and Director of Censuses and GIS, Abdulai Brima, chaired the meeting. Welcoming the committee membership, he highlighted the task; rolling out the terms of reference, which he said, was principally to oversee all the technical aspects of the proposed census. In that discharge, he said they would be guided by input from the National Census Advisory Committee.

Giving a detailed analysis of their duties, he said the committee’s key mandate shall be but not limited to: Reviewing and Finalizing the Census Instrument which includes Questionnaires and Manuals; Pre-testing the Data Collection Tools and ensuring Quality Control measures are in place; Ensuring that all Cartographic Preparations including training of mappers, Cartographic Data Collection and delineation of Enumeration Areas are done as stipulated and Enhancing Data Management in the area of pre-field activities Data Capture, Editing and Analysis. 

In his presentation to the committee on the WHY, HOW and WHEN of the 2020 Mid-Term Population and Housing Census, the Statistician-General of Stats SL who is also the Chief Census officer, Prof Osman Sankoh (Mallam O), said that the main purpose of the Mid-Term Population and Housing Census was to amongst other things: Evaluate progress made since the last primary census in 2015;Review the last census exercise, look at any of its reported challenges, and try to address them; Test the use of Computer-Assisted Personal Interview Data Collection (CAPI) in a census for the first time in Sierra Leone; Rehearse for the next full/primary census in 5 years’ time in 2025; Provide reliable baseline data to assess the impact of the Government’s key development interventions in respect of the Medium Term National Development Plan (MTNDP) and the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals especially SDG 4 which focuses on Education; and to more especially update and take stock of significant gaps in the 2015 Population and   Housing

Prof Sankoh noted that Government saw the need for a Mid-Term Census because some aspects were lacking in the last exercises as the populations of the individual localities that form the enumeration areas could not be determined due to coding errors. This time around, he assured that such errors would not recur due to the technological intervention of Computer Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI). This system replaces paper-based data collection, he informed, saying the CAPI comes with GPS coordinates that indicate data collection location and then send directly to a server at their headquarters in Freetown.

Setting the stage for the technical discourse, the Director of Demographic, Health and Social Statistics, Sonnia Jabbi said that the committee will have to closely look at areas where the questionnaire can be improved to especially cater for indicators that were not captured in the last census as well as removing those areas that might have become obsolete. He noted that this is the main reason why experts in respective fields have been conglomerated to provide the required expertise via constructive inclusion in the committee.

The technical committee was presented with the last census questionnaire to aid the discussions, which brought forth many strategic points that will be crucial in agreeing on the key contents of the 2020 Mid-Term Population and housing census questionnaire at the next meeting of the committee.

Other meaningful contributions in the meeting emanated from the Chairman of the Statistics Council, Moses Williams, The Director of the National Accounts and Economic Statistics Division, Mwaluma Andrew Brima Gegbe and the Director of Communications and PR, Samuel Ansumana who moderated the meeting

Credit: Stats SL Comms & PR Div

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