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Experts: Census hiccups can distort results

President Museveni launches National Population and Housing Census 2024

President Museveni launches National Population and Housing Census 2024

As many Ugandans eagerly prepared their homes for enumerators on National Census day, Friday, May 10, 2024, their anticipation turned to disappointment.

Despite rising early and waiting for hours, many were surprised to learn through social media about significant delays and challenges faced during the census process. The census, scheduled from May 10 to May 19, 2024, is designed to provide the government with essential data on Uganda’s population count, housing conditions, living standards, and the accessibility of basic services such as water and electricity.

It also aims to assess the reach of government programs like Emyooga, the Parish Development Model, and NAADS across the nation. Marking a significant shift in methodology, this year’s census is the first in Uganda to fully implement digital technologies for data collection. According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, the 2024 census employs over 120,000 enumerators, highlighting the scale of this national undertaking.

Despite the Government of Uganda and development partners like the United Nations Population Fund allocating funds to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, the census encountered significant initial obstacles. Enumerators voiced concerns over inadequate support, malfunctioning digital equipment, and the absence of official uniforms necessary for identification.

In an effort to understand the challenges impacting the launch of the census, which had been scheduled to start on a government-declared public holiday, The Observer reached out to several enumerators.

Mahad, an enumerator from Kawempe division, expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of promised logistical support: “The enumerators are frustrated about the entire census process because the Uganda Bureau of Statistics did not provide the agreed-upon training and field facilitation.”

He detailed the financial issues encountered, explaining, “At the start of our training, we were promised Shs 20,000 per day for nine days. However, by the end of the training, we were unexpectedly informed that our total compensation would only be Shs 90,000, significantly less than the Shs 180,000 we had anticipated.” This shortfall in facilitation has contributed to the rocky start of the census, affecting the morale and efficiency of the enumerators involved.


“They also told us that we were supposed to be facilitated in the field and be given a lunch allowance, but surprisingly, in the span of two days, we have not been given anything,” Mahad asserts. Faced with these challenges, Mahad has had to use his own resources to ensure effective data collection. “I’ve had to buy data to use the census tablets (CAPIS) because UBOS assured us they would provide mobile data, which they did not,” he explained.

Additionally, Mahad highlighted concerns about compensation, “Even the 500,000 shillings that we were promised is going to be taxed, and this comes with UBOS ensuring that all enumerators submit tax identification numbers,” he noted. He urged the government to ensure timely payment to enumerators, believing it would motivate them to fulfill their roles more effectively.

Another enumerator, who requested anonymity, shared insights into the operational challenges on the ground. Speaking about the first day of the census, she described it as “the most disorganized day in the history of the census.” She elaborated on the issues faced, including malfunctioning devices, “The first hours of the day were just spent at the stations because most of the devices given to us to record data and information were not working.”

She further criticized the lack of support from UBOS, “UBOS did not provide us with mobile data to be used in the field. Due to the hindrances faced on the first day, I was only able to count ten people,” she claimed. This lack of organizational efficiency and support from UBOS has evidently impacted the census process, casting doubt on the effectiveness of data collection efforts.

In Uganda, enumerators engaged in the national census have encountered significant operational issues, raising concerns about the overall management of this crucial data-gathering exercise.

One enumerator from Ndejje Lubugumu reported being unable to count even a single person on the first day due to faulty equipment provided by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS). He voiced his frustrations about the lack of logistical support, “I was stationed in a distant location yet UBOS did not give me any facilitation to reach the location. I am so much disappointed with UBOS for not considering our welfare yet they expect us to do their work diligently. How can you put me in a location where I need Shs 15000 transport to and from? How do you expect me to reach there?” he pondered.

Additionally, a troubling report emerged from a group of enumerators, with one revealing that “10 people from their group of enumerators were dropped on the last day without explanation after dedicating all their time for training.” This sudden dismissal has left many questioning the transparency and fairness of the administrative processes.

Further grievances were echoed by an enumerator based in Mbale city, who criticized UBOS for its poor planning, despite having a decade to prepare for the census.

The sentiment was reinforced by another enumerator counting individuals in the Lubaga division, who pointed out severe shortcomings in the government’s execution of the census, “The government did not plan accordingly and as enumerators we have not been paid the facilitation that was promised to us during training, we haven’t received our allowances and the equipment we were given to use doesn’t work well and the enumerator uniforms were not in sufficient numbers; it makes me wonder whether the problem lies with government or the local leaders on the ground,” he commented.

These firsthand accounts highlight a series of failings that have marred the census process, suggesting a need for significant improvements in how such national activities are coordinated and supported.


Interviewed for this story, multiple experts said the array of glitches reported by enumerators during the 2024 Uganda national census could significantly impact the accuracy and reliability of the census results.

One expert said enumerators like Mahad experienced a lack of logistical support, including insufficient training and field facilitation.

“This problem is likely led to a lack of preparedness among enumerators, which can result in inconsistent data collection practices and potential errors in the data recorded,” he said.

Another expert said the shift to digital technologies for data collection was intended to streamline the process and improve accuracy.

“However, the reported malfunctioning of devices, such as the census tablets (CAPIS), could lead to incomplete or incorrect data entries. If enumerators are unable to input data reliably, this could result in gaps in the data or inaccuracies that skew the overall results.”

He also said that “the failure to provide promised resources, such as mobile data, affected enumerators’ ability to conduct their work efficiently. For instance, one enumerator was only able to count ten people due to these hindrances. This limitation drastically reduces the reach and coverage of the census, potentially leaving significant segments of the population uncounted.”


0 #1 Lakwena 2024-05-16 19:05
In other words, everything that this regime tries to execute is like a sabotage (subversion).

From this exercise alone, who in his/her right state of mind can still deny that whatever is done under the leadership of "our Problem of Africa", Gen Tibuhaburwa is meaningless.

This is especially after he finally told us off on 26th January 2017, that he is neither our employee nor servant.

Moreover, in his current Radio/Tv adverts, the man should give Ugandans a break by shamelessly referring to the same Ugandans as fellow countrymen/women?

Except an imperialist to his slaves: how can Ugandans be his fellow countrymen/women; when he had categorically and angrily told them off that he is not their servant or employee?

What kind of countrymen/women, is our "Problem of Africa" referring to, and urging to cooperate in giving truthful information to the Naional Census Enumirators?
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0 #2 Lakwena 2024-05-16 19:15
And the mother of all questions is; how much did the United Nations Population Fund allocate the govt/UBOS for this exercise?

In other words, e.g., including the Raramoja Rain Harvest Dams and Iron sh*ts; right from the Prime Minister's Office, many officials in govt department love to eat "other people's money" (OPM).
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