#Article (Archive)

Still waiting for data on ethnicity

Mar 13, 2014, 10:17 AM

We want to revisit our comments, made earlier, about the fact that interest in the national census data is very high, and people cannot wait to access the vital information.

We note that nothing has changed, in terms of getting more and new information on the 2013 population and housing census, since the first report on the website of the Gambia Bureau of Statistics (GBoS), www.gbos.gov.gm

We want to reiterate our concern about the fact that a crucial piece of information, such as the population size of the various ethnic groups in the country, is still not available for public consumption.

Again, we ask: Why the delay in releasing these data?

We hope GBoS will provide this information soon, and to give us an answer if this is not going to be possible.

Meanwhile, the national census authorities found that the population has been growing at a higher rate (3.3 per cent per annum between 2003 and 2013), and that this means the population is expected to double in 21 years.

They said the steady increase in population size for decades has policy implications for all sectors, particularly the education, health, housing and agriculture sectors.

“With the consistent increase in the population, there is increasing demand for services and land both for residential and agricultural use.

“With an increasingly adverse economic climate at the global level, and increasing environmental problems, an increasing population at this rate will continue to pose development challenges”, they pointed out in their report.

They also noted that, comparing the current rate of population growth to the observed annual growth rate of 2.7 per cent over the period 1993 to 2003, the population growth rate “has significantly increased” over the past decade.

“One would have expected that with interventions geared towards a reduction in fertility, assuming a zero net-migration the population growth rate would have declined.

“This unexpected trend in the population growth rate can be attributed to improvements in the coverage of the 2013 census over 2003, and declining mortality rates.

We further learned from the national census authorities, citing Wikipedia, that “the 2012 population estimates ranked The Gambia as the 73rd most densely populated country in the world and the 10th in Africa”.

 “Since population density is a direct outcome of internal population redistribution, as dictated by various ‘push and pull’ factors, in the absence of changes in these factors in the foreseeable future the density is expected to continue to increase. This has policy implications for authorities both at the central and local government levels.

They cite the fact that, over the years, agricultural land has been dwindling with increasing pressure on land due to an increasing population.

“On the other hand, land for housing is becoming increasingly scarce in urban areas, which led to an unprecedented appreciation in the value of urban land, and the settlement of people in areas unfit for human settlement”, because of the swampy terrain.

What a country needs to do is be fair to all its citizens - whether people are of a different ethnicity or gender.
Chinua Achebe