See also:
» 30.09.2010 - Sierra Leone celebrates end of UN sanctions
» 22.02.2010 - UN names Sierra Leone’s tribunal prosecutor
» 15.02.2010 - UN partners media to fight sexual violence in S/Leone
» 02.09.2008 - S. Leone enacts anti-graft law
» 06.05.2008 - UN boasts S. Leone progress
» 20.12.2007 - Sierra Leone battles blackout
» 15.11.2007 - Sierra Leone leader renews graft battle
» 01.12.2005 - Sierra Leone donors ask no questions, pledge US$800m

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Sierra Leone
Politics | Society

New Sierra Leone census: fewer inhabitants than expected

afrol News, 8 February - The government of Sierra Leone has released provisional results from the first census held in the country since 1985, or since the civil wars started. The census results show an increase in population from 3,515,812 Sierra Leoneans in 1985, to 4,963,298 nationals in 2004, but this population growth was significantly smaller than expected.

Two decades after the last National Population Census, which was held in 1985, Sierra Leone in December 2004 conducted another Population Census. President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah on Friday launched the provisional results of the census on Friday at a conference centre in Freetown, the capital.

The results were somewhat surprising. Due to the long time that had passed since the last census, population data on Sierra Leone have been projections based on demographic trends in the 1980s. Thus, it had been assumed that Sierra Leone's population had increased from 3.52 million in 1985 to 5.23 million presently. Population growth has however been lower than foreseen, and Sierra Leone now has a population of 4.96 million - some 269,000 less than expected.

As the provisional results of the census were presented in Freetown on Friday, only some numbers were released but no analysis of these statistics were presented. Reasons for the lower-than-expected population growth are therefore mere speculations, but they must be the result of higher mortality, lower fertility or a higher migration deficit than previously foreseen. The civil war in Sierra Leone probably has had a significant influence on this development.

The new census was also able to provide Sierra Leone with the first new comprehensive political map in thirty years, showing a total of 166 chiefdoms or wards and boundaries, with 1,321 sections and 16,734 localities, according to a statement by the Freetown government.

President Kabbah in his introduction of the provisional census results emphasised the importance of the exercise for his government. "Soon after assuming office in 1996 I realized the enormous challenge my Government was confronted with in its mission to create the foundations of a wealthy and prosperous society," explained the Sierra Leonean President.

- In particular, I was at once confronted by the harsh reality of the absence of credible data, President Kabbah said. "The statistical system had collapsed, with the Central Statistics Office a grim shadow of an institution of international standard. Targeted planning was thus a great challenge," he added.

The Freetown government had been spurred to address the inadequacies of the Central Statistics Office (CSO) by this "unpleasant picture", by recommendations of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and by "our realisation that sound data is a key enabler of effective planning," President Kabbah revealed. Reform measures were thus undertaken by government, culminating in the new institution Statistics Sierra Leone (SSL).

The census was called for in April last year and conducted in December. According to the Sierra Leonean government, it was the "dynamic leadership of Professor Herbert Bob Kandeh" that had enabled authorities to present provisional results so soon, only two months after the census.

While the Sierra Leonean government had paid for a significant part of the census by its own means, President Kabbah in his presentation also emphasised the importance of large funds from development partners. He in particular mentioned the financial and technical aid from the IMF, the World Bank, the UNFPA, the EU, the UNDP and DFID. He also proudly noted that this was "Sierra Leone's first ever achievement of a timely Provisional Census report."

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