Sierra Leone to conclude census

SL Census
Photo: Oxfam

Sierra Leone’s 2021 Mid-Term Population and Housing Census will conclude today.

The two-week census is aimed at rectifying inconsistencies from the last census in 2015. The procedure of the census, however, has been denounced by the country’s main opposition party—All People’s Congress (APC)—which claims that the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) is falsifying counts to boost their political constituencies before the upcoming presidential elections.

While the opposition will continue to protest the disputed census measures, the central government will  likely respond by increasing its crackdown against the APC by arresting additional party members on the basis of provocation.

Making matters worse, the World Bank initially pledged to allocate a $30m grant for the census but withdrew the plan last month on the grounds that Freetown did not abide by the grant’s conditions. In the absence of these funds, the Sierra Leonean government independently paid the expenses of the census—such as the wages of the enumerators. Therefore, expect further deterioration of the poverty-stricken nation’s economy as public funds are quickly drained by the census. Yet, as a result, the census will likely considerably decrease the popular support towards the SLPP during the medium- to long-term.

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