By Nelson Manneh and Sariba Manneh
The Gambia Bureau of Statistics (GBoS) has recently commenced training of individuals for the 2024 Pilot Census, a comprehensive trial that tests all census procedures.
The exercise seeks to test personnel, systems, and procedures in an end-to-end “dress rehearsal” running through the entire process in a selected number of enumeration areas.
The Gambia Bureau of Statistics (GBOS) is a government department under the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs responsible for the collection, analysis and dissemination of statistical data.
Mr Nyakassi Sanyang, the Statistician General, said the Pilot census data are not expected to be statistically representative of the country’s population.
“However, pilot censuses produce data that can be useful in identifying potential issues. Furthermore, testing is fundamental when new technologies or methodologies are introduced in a census,” he said.
He said that the training will last for 12 days, with 10 days set for class training which includes training on the administration of the census questionnaires, understanding the concepts and definitions, simulation exercises through the conduct of mock interviews in the various local languages and the use of CAPI.
“The remaining two days will be field interviews to test the suitability of the questionnaires and the entire system. As earlier alluded to, we have come a long way, it started with the development of the census project document in which the UNFPA hired two ICT consultants to assess and estimate the ICT requirements for the census,” he said.
He said the resource mobilization started at the time government and partners were still focused on mitigating the impact of covid-19 and as a result, the required resources could not be mobilized to start the census activities on time.
He added that in June 2022, through the UNFPA support, they were able to acquire the latest GIS package for census mapping called the Official Statistics Modernization Programme.
“This was followed by the hiring of a geospatial consulting firm based in Accra, Ghana to install the programme and train the GIS staff and other personnel recruited to support the census mapping. This training adequately equipped our staff and with that they were able to train the mapping staff (90 mappers, 15 supervisors and 5 editors). In December 2022, the field mapping exercise began and lasted for 5 months. By June 2023, the entire fieldwork including call-backs was completed,” he said.
He said a GIS expert was hired from July 2023 to November 2023 to support the formatting of the maps for integration into the CAPI system. On the development of the CAPI system, dashboard and recruitment platform, the GBoS ICT team worked closely with their counterparts at the National Agency for Statistics and Demography of Senegal.
He said currently, all the required systems are developed, deployed, configured and synchronized, before using them in the census enumeration.
“This exercise is therefore very important, and you are certainly more critical in this process as you are the ones entrusted with the responsibility to support us acquire a perfect system for the census,” he noted.