8 November 2012

Gambia: Over U.S.4 Million Needed for 2013 Census

The statistician general at the Gambia Bureau of Statistics (GBoS) has revealed that the budget for the activities relating to the Fifth National Population and Housing Census in 2013 is estimated to be above US$4M.

Nyakassi MB Sanyang made this disclosure Wednesday while presenting the annual activity report and audited financial statement of GBoS for the year ended 31st January to December 2011, before the Joint Session of the Public Accounts and Public Enterprises Committee (PAC/PEC), of the National Assembly. He said the census is conducted every 10 years and The Gambia has successfully conducted four censuses since independence, the last of which was in 2003.

He also told the deputies that they plan to open 13 regional offices at least three months before the actual census count, and that each office needs to be equipped with a pick-up vehicle. Sanyang added that in the light of the above, it is recommended that a donor conference be held to solicit more donor funding for the 2013 Population and Housing Census.

Sanyang informed the Committee that the 2013 Census has both long and short-term objectives. He explained that the long-term objectives can be identified as follows: by the end of the project, to improve the knowledge on main characteristics of the population in the country to better understand the interrelationships of the population and development; build a data capture system that is sustainable and always available for document management for the GBoS and other government departments/agencies; analyse demographic and related socio-economic data/information at the national and sub-national levels, publish reports on thematic areas and disseminate these findings through seminars, workshops, internet and the mass media to engender wider access to information and for better integration of demographic variables in developing planning; and establish a geo-reference system of demographic and socio-economic information or planning and management.

Sanyang said the short-term objectives include the following: To develop skills of the GBoS staff; Geographic Information System (GIS), data collection, data processing, analysis, data dissemination and utilisation; to improve availability, accessibility and utilisation of census outputs in a timely manner; to identify population characteristics for the purpose of guiding social-economic policies and programmes; to update the enumeration area maps and district maps for use in sampling frame for inter-censual surveys; to establish an integrated GIS for the purpose of producing thematic maps; and to build a data processing system that produce tables for publication and further analysis as well as proper archiving of census data.

He said given the scope of censuses, preparatory activities usually start 2-3 years before enumeration."When GBoS numerators were doing census mapping-out throughout the country, some people were claiming that they are not aware of any census activity going on, that means we at GBoS need to inform the people about what is happening so that they cooperate in what we are doing," he added.

Sanyang noted that census activity entails a lot in terms of equipment and other resources, adding that in West Coast Region alone GBoS would open three centres, one for Kombo North, while the second centre is for the other Kombos and the third centre for the Fonis.

He further stated that preparations for the 2013 Population and Housing Census were continued in 2011 with the mapping exercise key among the preparatory activities. He also disclosed that The Gambia is for the first time using modern Geographic Information System (GIS) technology in census mapping, adding that with this technology, high quality census maps would be produced using satellite imagery while a GIS database will be developed.

He continued: "Recruitment and training for the mapping exercise was done in the second quarter of 2011. The actual mapping started in June 2011 both in the field and in office. For the field mapping exercise, teams were constituted and all teams were deployed to start the exercise in the URR. The official launch of the 2013 census mapping was also held in Basse, URR in July 2011 and it coincides with the national celebration of the World Population Day held in that region."

The GBoS statistician general further informed the Committee that field mapping was successfully completed in URR and Banjul by the end of 2011, and that some teams have moved into CRR. He explained that to further build national capacity in GIS, a team was hired by UNFPA to conduct a two-week intensive training in GIS for the GIS assistants and some GBoS staff.

He added that the training was not only found to be useful, but also timely. He opined that the census has been generally well coordinated since it started in mid-2011 at both field and office levels, adding that the exercise is on schedule as planned and is expected to be completed by the end of 2012.

Specific recommendations

While underscoring that census is an extensive statistical inquiry that requires huge financial, material and human resources, Sanyang said since 2010, government and UNFPA are the financiers of the census preparatory activities. According to him, in the light of the above, it is recommended that a donor conference be held to solicit more donor funding of the 2013 Population and Housing Census.

GPPA compliance review

Ibraima Sanyang, senior compliance officer at the Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA) said that for the period under review, GBoS was found to be mainly-complaint with the Public Procurement Act 2001 and Regulations 2003. The Committee then raised comments, concerns and observations before finalising the adaptation of the GBoS 2011 report.

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