Liberia: Statistics House Announces “Preparedness” to Do Census

Professor Francis Fonanyeneh Wreh, Director General of the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services telling the press how prepared is LISGIS to conduct another round of the National Population and Housing Census

Monrovia – The Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) has announced its “preparedness” of conducting another National Population and Housing Census (NPHC) for Liberia. LISGIS is the institution of government charged with the statutory responsibility of producing official statistics for Liberia.

Addressing a news conference Friday, August 2, the nation’s statistics house Director General, Prof. Francis Fonanyeneh Wreh, said, “It’s been a little while since we last updated you about where we are with the Census. We have been working to ensure that we achieve some major milestones before coming to the public. At least, we can safely say that the National Population and Housing Census is well on course.”

Highlighting their preparedness, Prof. Wreh further stated that the United Nations Fund for Population Fund (UNFPA),  has created a pool fund account for all of donors’ contribution to the Census, including the government’s contribution and a co-financing agreement was signed between and all donors contributing to the Census including LISGIS.

“Currently, we have managed to raise with the support of the UNFPA about 50% of what is required for the conduct of the NHPC. Government has provided approximately US$1M for the NPHC and has committed US$6M to the entire Census. The Swedish Government has committed US$7.8M to the Census and provided US$4M initially. World Bank has committed US$6M and has provided US$1M initially,” DG Wreh disclosed.

According to him, other partners — Irish Aid, UNDP and USAID — are gearing up to commit to the Census. He further disclosed that in further preparation for the national task, they and UNFPA have also conducted a joint nationwide Census Preparedness Assessment, which additionally included an assessment of LISGIS’ headquarters in preparation for deployment of technical and professional staff.

Prof. Wreh further informed that in a few weeks’ time, they will receive the full consignment of the first phase of the census materials, comprising of operational logistics for the census supplied by MTosh. They will also be expecting the arrival of the Census Technical Advisor; adding: “They will work to prepare the way for the smooth conduct of the geographic planning exercise and the census in entirety.”

He also disclosed, “In a few weeks, some of our local technicians here at LISGIS are expected to do a study tour to few African countries including Malawi, Egypt, Ethiopia and South Africa, to gain firsthand experiences and knowledge surrounding the successes of the digital type of censuses conducted in these countries.”

The Statistics House boss also mentioned that he will soon seek approval for extension of the Census from the Legislature owing to “limited time to the December deadline for conducting the geographic mapping exercise which should last for at least 10 months. The delay was experienced from resource mobilization but hopefully we are now on course with that.”

Meanwhile, Prof. Wreh used the occasion to speak on the ‘resignation’ of his Deputy Director General for Statistics and Data Processing, Mr. G. Alex Williams, as Census Project Coordinator.

Williams had written and posted to the social media his letter of resignation in which he made a number of claims against his boss.

“I am pleased to tender in my resignation as the 2019 Census Project Coordinator. This is due to your constant undermining of the office of the 2019 Census Project Coordinator, unilateral decision to commit the government of Liberia to the payment transfer of over 6.7M United States Dollars to the UNFPA Account in the United States of America as well as the willful violation of the Public Procurement and Concession Act and others.”  

In response to his former student’s rants, DG Wreh stated: “Mr. Williams currently sits in a position I occupied at least for the last 12 years before my ascendancy as Director General. How can one imagine that I would want to undermine him to sit in the same position I once occupied? Not only that but I personally recommended Mr. Williams on two occasions to participate in two surveys while he was struggling to find funds for his schooling at the University of Liberia. The School to Work Survey in 2012 and the HIES 2014 and 2016 both of which allowed him to raise monies for his schooling. Very lately, I approved the sum of US$23,736 to facilitate his study to the Czech Republic to pursue his Master’s Degree in this month. It annoys me to see that rather than simply relinquishing his post quietly, he has to spread misinformation.”

He also stated that he didn’t transfer to UNFPA’s account “unilaterally” as claimed by Williams but the transfer was done to the pool fund account by the Liberian Government. Prof. Wreh extended special thanks to the Liberian Government and partners, especially UNFPA for their willingness to working with us in conducting this round of Census in Liberia. “They stood with us in 2008 and they are still standing by us.”