Speech by His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma on the Occasion of the formal launching of the 2015 Population and Housing Census Provisional Results on March 31st 2016.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
From the 5th – 18th December, 2015, we carried out the officialcountingof ournation’spopulation and the compilation of economic, social and otherdata; data that would inform the formulation ofdevelopmentpoliciesand plans; data that would guide the demarcation of constituenciesforelections.
Over 16,000 field workers were deployed across the country for this exercise. A huge awareness campaign was embarked upon to engender public participation.
But Census is not just about counting our population or collecting different types of data. It is a process that also involves the analysis and evaluation of the data so collected and, of course, the publication and dissemination of the final figures and facts about the country’s demographic, social and economic realities.
We have come a long way in this journey, in providing the baseline data that will continue to serve as a reference point for our development trajectories. Today’s launch of the provisional result of the December 2015 population and housing census is a continuation of that long journey, it is part of the process of publication and dissemination.
By all indications, the Sierra Leone 2015 Population and Housing Census has been the most comprehensive data collection exercise ever undertaken in our country’s history. When my family and other members of my household were enumerated in December last year, we were subjected to a detailed list of questions soliciting a variety of important information. Apparently, the number of emerging issues has influenced the inclusion of more variables into the census questionnaire.
This did not come by surprise; the goal of the 2015 Population and Housing Census is to increase the availability and accessibility of accurate, timely and reliable data on our demographic and socio-economic characteristics. It is designed to support evidence based decisions; to guide policy formulation and the monitoring and evaluation of development frameworks at national, sub-national and sectoral levels.
This is why the Census process stands out as a key building block in the development of every country. It is a painstaking process, it is a process that requires resources and could be faced with many other challenges. My government was aware of the challenges faced by Statistics Sierra Leone in this exercise especially during the two weeks of enumeration. But we are satisfied to note that those challenges were addressed with the support of our international partners and line government agencies. We are satisfied that those challenges did not derail the process and will not affect the credibility of the outcome. This has been made possible by the high level of stakeholder participation in the process with political parties, civil society, traditional and religious leaders, MDAs playing significant roles in ensuring a successful conduct of the whole exercise.
And this is why, even as we await analysis of a Post Enumeration Survey to determine the coverage and content errors; our international partners and observers have graded the December 2015 Census as “generally satisfactory” and that the few challenges they discovered were not unique to our process.
From the onset, I have emphasized on the need for credible census figures because this is what we need to strengthen our democracy and to guarantee a guided track in the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and our Agenda for Prosperity.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, as a government, we whole-heartedly accept these provisional figures. We believe that the figures give us an indication of the country’s development needs and challenges; we get a pointer to how far we have come, how many of our compatriots are being left behind, in what areas and what we should do to bridge the gaps in order to bring many more on board our unstoppable journey to prosperity.
We commend Statistics Sierra Leone for the hard work, we thank the people of Sierra Leone for the overwhelming interest and extraordinary participation in the process and we applaud all our international partners, including, UNFPA, DFID, IRISH AID, UK AID and UNDP for their overwhelming support in the census process.
While we look forward to the final results in December this year, I will entreat Statistics Sierra Leone to maintain the high standards throughout this process.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is now my honor to launch the Provisional Report on the Sierra Leone 2015 Population and Housing Census.