Friday, March 21, 2008

Liberian census gets underway

Today, the Liberian government will begin its first census of the country in more than a quarter century. It's an effort to better serve the population, government leaders say. "Without data, there is no way to target your resources properly," Edward Liberty, who heads the agency charged with carrying out the census, told the Associated Press.

From that story:
For more than a year, over 9,000 census-takers have combed the densely forested nation mapping every structure. For three days starting Friday, they will revisit each dwelling and count the inhabitants.

The preparations, including the marking of dwellings, have given birth to rumors. Some wonder if its part of a military recruitment drive, a potent fear in a country where boys as young as 5 were handed machine guns and forced to fight. Others believe it's in preparation for new taxes.

To try to dispel these and other rumors, the government commissioned a pop star to compose a catchy tune about the census. It's been translated into Liberia's 16 languages and is playing daily on the radio, urging Liberians to "stand up and be counted."

Throughout the country's interior, billboards have been erected reminding villagers to stay home for three days starting Friday to properly be counted. Schools are closed through the end of the census.

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