Stand up and be counted

Baraka Policy Institute supports successful 2020 population census in Ghana

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From left: Dr Haruna Zagoon-Sayeed; Prof Imoro Braimah; David Kombat; Naa Alhassan Andani; Prof Ellen Bortei-Doku Aryeetey; Dr Leticia Adelaide Appiah; Faisal Bawa

The year was 2015, but it seemed like only yesterday when I was invited by the Baraka Policy Institute (BPI) to speak on the quality of the curriculum for Ghana’s development. That was the Institute’s 1st anniversary public lecture and was held at the British Council, Accra. We thank God that the Institute’s commitment to reflect on key developmental issues in Ghana persists to this day since its founding in 2014. Amen!

2020 population census

This year’s lectures (Tuesday, 4th February, 2010) focused on the theme of Ghana’s 2020 national population and housing census. Though census is needed for national planning, experiences from the past showed low-spirited community participation, logistical problems, little public education, and so on. The idea today is to start the awareness process particularly to engage the local leaders to mobilise their communities.

Speaking on the theme, “Ensuring accurate and reliable national population census: The community responsibility,” Prof Imoro Braimah declared at the outset that what he was about to say was controversial. Serving as the provost of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology (KNUST), Prof Braimah noted that the population census was, in fact, much more important to Ghana than the much acclaimed and energy charged Voter’s Register being bandied about by the political parties.

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Front row from left, Salem Kalmoni (Japan Motors); Anis Haffar; Dr Stephen Afranie (University of Ghana) and community leaders.

In other words, if the census is planned and executed properly, the voter register itself could be extracted from the population census. He added that a census covers everybody; it is a total count demanding more resources and must be done every year to include the new births, migrants, immigrants, and even the dead.

The population figures are used for planning and resource allocation and are staunchly related to the provision of roads and utility services such as water, electricity, and sanitation. The irony was that, for the lack of education and a proper understanding, those in deprived communities – who needed the provisions the most and stood to gain more – avoided the exercise.

Community leaders as ambassadors

Speaking to the Muslim community, Prof Braimah noted that the community undercounted their numbers. He advised the leaders to be the ambassadors and support the census and not exclude themselves, their wives and children even if they did not all live in the same abode. In other words, one household with multiple geographical locations would favour the numbers, when a digital census is used.

He said that it helped to know the census officials assigned to every community in the country and to let honesty and integrity match the tallied numbers.

Prof Ellen Bortei-Doku Aryeetey, spoke on the theme, “National population census: Implications and dynamics for effective social policy interventions”. The former senior research fellow at the University of Ghana (ISSER, Legon) noted the importance of the census for United Nations figures and for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as they address the questions: Who are we? How many are we? Where do we live? And How do we live?

In her remarks, Dr Leticia Adelaide Appiah, (a medical doctor and executive director of the National Population Council) noted that just as diagnoses are required to see the root causes of human diseases, so the census helped to diagnose what ails communities. The census is the laboratory to enhance the norms for optimal health. The analogy – clear as a whistle – must have sounded volumes to the discerning listener.

The BPI Mission

At the inception, the BPI lecture series were designed purposefully to reflect on critical policy areas needing attention. Since then the series have brought together key stakeholders and experts including government officials and civic society groups.

Past speakers have included Prof Clement Dzidonu, president of the Accra Institute of Technology; Prof Joshua Alabi, former vice-chancellor, University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA); Prof Mohammed Salifu, executive secretary, National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE); Prof Mahama Duwiejua (NCTE); the psychiatrist Dr Akwasi Osei (Mental Health Authority); Prof Ato Essuman (Methodist University College); Dr Fred Kyei Asamoah (COTVET), and others.

Mr Salem Kalmoni, the managing director of Japan Motors, and president of BPI, noted at the onset that “We would like to re-emphasise that we at Baraka Policy Institute (BPI) see those in charge of national policy as partners. And we are fully aware of the difficulties and complexities of policy drafting and implementation. Our intervention in these matters is to draw attention to those important details that might have escaped the attention of the government, policy makers and authorities. We do this by offering suggestions and alternative ideas through empirical research and intellectual support.”

The mission was corroborated by Naa Alhassan Andani, managing director of Stanbic Bank and chairman of BPI, that over the years, “BPI has tailored its activities towards education and wellbeing as we believe that these inseparable domains hold the key to our socio-economic development. It is in this light that our research activities, capacity building programmes and policy drafting endeavours, as well as our advocacy programmes have focused on education of the deprived and the vulnerable in particular and the general wellbeing of the citizenry as a whole.”

Email: anishaffar@gmail.com
Website: www.anishaffar.com

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