Salone News

On the ongoing mid-term census in Sierra Leone

8 January 2022 at 15:26 | 680 views

By Professor Osman Sankoh, Chief Statistician of Sierra Leone, popularly known as Mallam Osman (Mallam O)

You should know the strange circumstances we are working in — the first time an influential political party openly called for a boycott, printed “don’t count me” stickers for members.

If you have followed my press releases, I have mentioned the issues of resistance, intimidation, refusals, ...

I see that some of you really understand the problem. Some trained Sierra Leoneans picked up our tablets, got paid 30% field allowances and 100% transport allowances and disappeared.

Fortunately we remotely deactivated the software application so that the tablets can’t be used for any malpractices and we have the full details of the persons. Some who have showed up to collect other allowances have been apprehended and taken to CID.

Payment by bank transfer doesn’t work easily for 15,000 people, many of whom had no bank accounts. And even for those with bank accounts, the BBANs are difficult to get right. In addition: How do you pay field staff in a village via bank transfer when many remote villages don’t have ATMs or Banks to withdraw?

I smiled at many of the suggestions but please note that we are a large team of Sierra Leoneans who, like you, also understand the system and have regular meetings to get things to work in our circumstances.

Irrespective of the above challenges, we have made very good progress; surprisingly?

The mop-up period has a strategy that will ensure all willing households get counted and soon.

There is an interesting misunderstanding of the counting process. Even educated people think that every household member will respond to our enumerators; no, we speak to only one respondent for a 5-member household, for instance. The other 4 may feel they haven’t been counted which is not true. Please help educate your friends and relatives.

We are doing the right thing. The digital census will deliver the most credible data we have ever experienced.

Imagine the number of rogue compatriots that took our tablets and money and decided not to work. Had it been paper questionnaires, they would have filled in garbage, delivered and would have still been paid. With the tablets, on the contrary, we know they don’t work and as such we are replacing them, we won’t pay them a cent more and they will be prosecuted for obstructing the census process.

Bongolistic New Year greetings to all of you.

I remain…

Mallam O.