LISGIS Acting DG Mr. Wilmot F. Smith
LIBERIA – With barely six more days to the conduct of the country’s first digital census, there have been several hanging issues that have the propensity to cause disruption to the process, and so the National Society Council of Liberia (NCSCL) has called on the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) to settle those trending issues of grave concern.
One of the many outstanding issues remains the failure or delay in the payment of enumerators and Supervisors, who were recently trained at various centers across the country by the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS), even though the budget for the entire process was captured and passed in the current calendar budget.
The delay in the payment of the enumerators and supervisors has led to several of them (enumerators and supervisors) stranded in the wilderness, thus leading to some violent protests in some parts of the country with Gbarpolu being the main center of attraction.
Furthermore, there are claims from some applicants that their names were omitted from the list despite satisfying all other processes and earlier being informed of their qualification, a claim LISGIS has remained tight-lipped upon despite being contacted on numerous occasions by this writer.
And with the main enumeration process, the National Housing and Population Census (NHPC) just less than a week to kick off, NCSCL fears that the outstanding payment could cost the entire process, which could in turn have a detrimental effect on the conduct of the pending 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections.
In an open letter to LISGIS, the Council called on the “Statistics House” to ensure all-inclusive participation and urgent resolution of issues leading to the reported violent disruption of Liberia’s first digital census by embittered/frustrated potential enumerators who made various claims, including their wrongful exclusion from the list of qualified applicants in some counties.
“The National Civil Society Council of Liberia writes to request for all-inclusive participation and urgent resolution of issues leading to the reported violent disruption of Liberia’s first digital census by embittered/frustrated potential enumerators who made various claims, including their wrongful exclusion from the list of qualified applicants in some counties. To this end, we firmly request for an all-inclusive governance and management structure and implementation processes that involve the full participation of coordinating structures of civil society organizations, including the National Civil Society Council of Liberia in the remaining phases of the Census operations,” read the open letter to LISGIS.
The Council believes if the earlier mentioned prevailing situation is not urgently addressed and appropriate holistic measures put in place to prevent the recurrence of the same, it will condition the climate for more violent tensions as disgruntled disqualified applicants may derail or hold the process hostage, while at same time dissatisfied enumerators would poorly perform.
“The ultimate consequences will be limited data sufficiency, data quality, and data integrity of the harvested census facts. Should this be the case, evidence-based, quality, and reliable development planning by Government and NGO actors alike will not be guaranteed. We therefore firmly request for the application of multi-actor, collaborative problem-solving and partnership-based approaches that include the full participation of civil society organizations for the resolution of the current situation and in the remaining implementation stages of the census,” the Council mentioned.
“We would like to indicate that since the inception of the Census process, we had observed, with much discontent, that the planning and implementation processes had not been all-inclusive, leaving the lion’s share of development partners, especially CSOs behind.
The Council had also observed of operational issues including inadequate public awareness/sensitization, especially at the gross root level; seemingly limited period allocated for enumeration exercise and fluid recruitment process; and financial and other accountability issues.
Mr. Director General, there is no gain in saying the role of CSOs is a nexus between the state and the people; a watchdog of society; and a major actor in national development. Therefore, your full inclusion of coordinating CSO structures such as the National Civil Society Council, the umbrella organization of all CSOs in Liberia, will be a significant corrective measure going forward,” the communication, carved under the signature of the Chairperson of NCSCL,” Madam Loretta Alethea Pope-Kai concluded.