Sierra Leone’s 2015 Population and Housing Census report was officially launched by the President of the Republic His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma, on Friday 21 December 2016 at State House. The release of the official results marked a significant milestone in the census process, which began in May 2013. Slated to be conducted in 2014, the census was postponed twice due to the Ebola outbreak. Despite the challenges posed by Ebola, the enumeration exercise which marked the start of the census was launched on December 4th 2015, just one month after the country was declared Ebola-free.
Enumeration was conducted from the 5th to 18th December 2015 by Statistics Sierra Leone (SSL), with support from UNFPA and other partners. Provisional results were released in March, and the final results launched in December. The total population of Sierra Leone was estimated to be 7,092,113, indicating a 3.2% growth in the population since the previous census.
As the UN agency mandated to support censuses and demographic surveys, UNFPA provided significant support to SSL and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development for the conduct of the 2015 census. Technical support to the process included the deployment of a Census Technical Adviser, Cartographics/GIS expert, Data processing expert, and census communications expert to strengthen the human resource capacity of SSL. The four International Technical staff supported census preparation activities, including mapping of enumeration areas, conduct of the pilot census, validation of questionnaires, training and deployment of 16,000 census staff, and data collection, tabulation, editing and processing. UNFPA was among the lead agencies in several census committees that were established, including a United Nations Technical Committee on Census consisting of all UN agencies in Sierra Leone.
For the first time, the census report includes data on UNFPA’s mandate areas of maternal mortality and adolescent health, which will be highly advantageous for future UNFPA programming. The collected data includes adolescent girls’ socioeconomic characteristics such as literacy and education levels, employment, fertility and marital status, housing conditions, access to amenities such as portable water, the Internet and health facilities, and alcohol and tobacco use. The socio-economic impacts of Ebola and data on people with disabilities were also captured.
The 2015 Population and Housing Census has been rated by International Monitors as one of the most reliable and technically sound censuses ever conducted in Sierra Leone. The data obtained will inform development planning for the next ten years, until the next census is conducted.