The Public is hereby informed that the 2023 Population and Housing Census earlier scheduled for April 2023 has been rescheduled to November 2023. The rescheduling is as a result of the state of preparedness which is affected by the emergence of the novel corona virus (COVID-19). For the smooth conduct of any census, the pre-enumeration activities should start at least two years prior to the census. This was not possible due to diverted focus by government and development partners to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. This resulted in the low level of disbursement of funds to support the pre-enumeration activities which affected the timely implementation of these activities. Also, the conduct of a population and housing census needs to be preceded by a capacity needs assessment to determine the ICT, Geographic Information System (GIS) material, and the human resource needs of the different stages of the preparatory process and to serve as input for the development of the census project document. However, the restrictions on the movement of people and goods affected the movement of technical experts to conduct this assessment and the timely implementation of regional workshops that were expected to boost the capacity of census personnel.
Another factor that affected the timely start of the census activities is the procurement of the GIS software and training on the use of the applications. This was essential as this is the first time The Gambia is conducting a digital census which requires the conduct of digital cartography. Digital cartography requires getting recent high-resolution satellite imagery or downloading offline satellite imagery and loading it into the tablets for field operations. This process requires time and stable internet connectivity. The data sent to central office requires some editing and processing and this is one of the most daunting and tedious processes required to prepare an interactive digital enumeration area (EA) map to be integrated in the census CAPI application.
Also, another related activity that may affect the successful implementation of the census in April 2023 is the local government elections which is scheduled on the same day of the census reference date (15th April 2023). The campaign activities may jeopardize the publicity of the census, and this may have adverse effect on the census activities.
The delay in starting the census activities has a domino effect on the overall census roadmap and its implementation. There are lots of technicalities and technical expertise needed to conduct a digital census and since this is the first time The Gambia is using this system, sequencing of the implementation of the planned census activities is very crucial to its success. The mapping exercise is ongoing and is expected to be completed in May 2023 and its data processing will continue for another three months.
Furthermore, it’s important to note that rushing or skipping any census activity will compromise quality of the output. Before the actual census enumeration, the Bureau is supposed to do a mini census called the pilot or trial census. The pilot census is the most important pre-census activity, and its main purpose is to test the overall readiness for the technical and logistical implementation of the census. This activity is planned to take place in May/June 2023 and will be followed by subsequent activities such as the deployment of census staff at the designated regional census offices, recruitment of census personnel, training and deployment of these personnel for the enumeration exercise.
Nyakassi M.B. Sanyang
Gambia Bureau of Statistics