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  NPHC »
National Population Housing Census

1.1 Background
Demographic and other socio-economic data are required for development planning. Demographic information includes indicators like birth rate, death rate, age composition, spatial distribution, migration patterns, among others. These indicators are important to enhance planning in sectors such as labour force, education, health, etc. 

In most countries, especially the developing ones, population censuses are the main source of demographic statistics. In Liberia, other sources of statistics like vital registration, sample surveys, administrative records and community or civil registration offer very limited demographic statistics mainly because they are not yet fully operational.  In addition, the civil strife in the last two decades made the situation worse by destroying national data banks. The demographic statistics from the censuses of 1962, 1974 and 1984 and socio-economic surveys conducted prior to the civil conflict are either extremely scanty or completely lost. Furthermore, most of the demographic statistics that survived the civil strife are no longer relevant to the situation on the ground mainly because of massive population displacements and/or resettlements.   

In this respect, the Government of Liberia considered the 2008 National Population and Housing Census (NPHC) a necessary prerequisite for assessing the socio-economic situation of its population.  It attaches great importance to the determination of the current numbers and distribution of the population in pursuance of its programme for national development. Therefore, the census organization provided for participation at all levels of Government, civil society and non-governmental organizations through the formation of committees, working in close collaboration with and under the direct supervision of the Census Commission.

1.2 The 2008 National Population and Housing Census

Since the early 1960s, the Government of Liberia has been increasingly conscious of the need to incorporate socio-demographic indicators into its economic and social development planning and programmes. Such an option requires reliable and regularly updated data, representing the various characteristics of the population. This was made possible through the conduct of three successive population censuses in 1962, 1974 and 1984 which revealed a constantly growing population of 1.1 million, 1.5 million and 2.1 million inhabitants respectively.
The Government of Liberia, after the 1984 National Population and Housing Census, decided to conduct a population and housing census every ten (10) years in order to maintain up- to- date socio- economic and demographic data. However, the interruption of the civil conflict could not permit the undertaking of the 1994 and 2004 censuses as previously planned within the framework of the World Round of Censuses for 1985-1994 and 1995-2004.
With the election of the Unity Party Government headed by Her Excellency Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2006, the Government decided to conduct the first post war census in 2008 in order to update the national data base.   

The mapping exercise that preceded the census canvassed the whole country and demarcated enumeration area (EA) boundaries. Hence, the 2008 NPHC bridges the statistics gaps mentioned above by offering national and sub-national baseline statistics and updated demographic indicators.
Globally, the methodology of census taking has been improving over the years and the 2008 NPHC portrays these improvements. However, there were two basic additions to this census: foremost, the shift from the de jure censuses of 1962, 1974 and 1984 to a de facto census in 2008; and, secondly, the inclusion of a module on Agriculture. The de jure census enumerates usual residents of a household while the de facto one records persons who spent a reference night in a household. De facto censuses are easier to conduct and, hence, most countries adopt them. Liberia being a predominantly agricultural country, the ‘module on Agriculture’ was introduced with the aim of generating a sampling frame that will be used to design and implement agricultural surveys in the future.   

The enumeration started on March 21, 2008 and ended on March 30, 2008. It was implemented by trained enumerators who administered a standard questionnaire to household heads or knowledgeable household members. Arrangements were made to ensure that special categories of the population were enumerated: for example, homeless people who do not live in formal households; in-mates in confinements and rehabilitation facilities; guests in hotels and transients at air and sea ports; patients in hospitals and others.
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