People & Power

Census supervision will be very strict - Ubos director

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Uganda Bureau of Statistics Executive Director Ben Paul Mungyereza

Uganda Bureau of Statistics Executive Director Ben Paul Mungyereza during the interview. PHOTO BY Stephen Wandera. 



Posted  Sunday, August 24   2014 at  01:00

In Summary

The National Population and Housing Census enumeration was called off twice in as many years due to lack of funds. Two years after it was supposed to be conducted, the national statistics body said all is now set despite some challenges. Ismail Musa Ladu interviewed the Uganda Bureau of Statistics Executive Director, Mr Ben Paul Mungyereza, about the importance and the reliability of the huge exercise that runs from August 28, to September 06, 2014.

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So what is it all about the national census; how important is it?
Any activity that gives a breakdown of a population is important. With the census you will be able to know the nitty-gritty that will help you take informed decision whether for the country or organisations.
For example, the census gives a breakdown of what people do in a particular area, where you can find them, how many they are, if they are farmers what kind of crops do they grow, how many health facilities and schools are available, etc. In other words, we will be able to give you all the details including the minutest of information that will be relevant to you when planning or making important decisions. It is only census that will give accurate information on not only the size of the population but will also provide the structure of the population. And to get this kind of information using a survey, then you will need a huge sample size.

If the exercise is that important, why was it delayed for this long?
Due to other competing priorities, sufficient funds couldn’t be raised to fully undertake this exercise— National Population and Housing Census enumeration. Importantly, this kind of exercise is not a project you can do in phases. You must do it at once and finish it. So we agreed to do it once all the resources were available. And I am happy to say that everything is set and good to go.

How much will this exercise cost the taxpayer?
Between the financial year 2008/2009 to 2013/2014, we have used about Shs100 billion. This financial year we have been given Shs90 billion and in the next financial year we shall get about Shs9 billion. So in total we shall spend about Shs200 billion.

How reliable and accurate is the data that you will collect in taking important decisions for the country?
It will all come down to the people who are giving the information and those collecting the data. The level of supervision will also determine the reliability and accuracy of information collected. We are already sensitising the public on the need for giving accurate information. And we are training our people (supervisors and enumerators) on how to professionally collect and handle information. This is because we are aware that wrong information is bad for planning. This is why the supervision will be really tight and it will be across all levels. Each parish supervisor will only supervise six enumerators. This is because we want to have nothing less than accurate information.

In terms of employment, how many will it generate?
Most of the employment will be temporary. We will employ 83,000 enumerators and about 17,000 parish supervisors and assistants. And each enumerator will be given Shs200,000 after the exercise in addition to facilitation for attending trainings. The payment for the supervisors will be slightly higher and so is that for the chief administrative officers who will be part of the exercise.

There appears to be confusion between registration for the national Identity cards and the census. Some people think you don’t have to do both, saying it’s the same thing. How are you dealing with that mix-up?
This is because both projects delayed otherwise this could not have happened. However, this shouldn’t be a problem because for us we shall be coming to the households where we will be doing the enumeration while for the case of IDs you have to go to the registration centre where you will be registered from. So the two are different.
And secondly, we want more information than is required for ID registration. We focus on the environment and households while for the IDs only personal information is mainly required.

What challenges are you are grappling with?
One of the key issues is the border conflicts. This is mainly internal. For example border conflicts between sub-counties, villages, and even districts. So for us it becomes difficult for us to know where to place them. But we have resolved to use only gazzated areas as a way to deal with these problems. Politicisation of the exercise is the other matter we are dealing with through sensitising the masses.
Hard to reach areas like Kalangala, Sebei and Karamoja remain a challenge but we have since got solution to it. We have means of transport and life jackets for areas like Kalangala and we have arranged for detailed security of our field officers including those who will be operating in Bundibugyo, given the aftermath of the recent skirmishes. In hilly or mountainous areas and in places where homes are scattered - for instance the distance between one household and another is almost six kilometers - people in charge of enumeration there will have less households to attend to compared to other areas.

Your last word
The census is important for planning in a sense that it will inform proper allocation of resources. Without indicative figures, government and business can get it so wrong. And that is what we are trying to avoid.

About the census

Census is the total process of collecting, compiling, analysing, publishing and disseminating, demographic, social and economic data pertaining to all persons in a country at a specific point in time. The Government of Uganda, through the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), is preparing to conduct the next National Population and Housing Census this week. The last such census was conducted in September 2002. The census was postponed from last year to this year August 2014 due to lack of funds.

This is the 10th census to be conducted in Uganda, the 5th after Uganda gained her Independence and the 2nd to be conducted by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics. The Census Night will be on the 27th and 28th of August 2014.

The census exercise will be covered in 10 days from the August 28 to September 6, 2014 ;
This will involve door-to-door interviews with household heads during day time only and it will be to all persons who will spend the Census Night in the country.
The theme for 2014 census is Counting for Planning and Improved Service Delivery