Census: Technical glitches, floods further mar exercise 

Census enumerators count travelers along Jinja Road in Busia town on the night of May 10, 2024. PHOTO/DAVID AWORI

What you need to know:

  • Mr John Mulindwa, a supervisor in Nateete, said their villages are densely populated yet they spend a lot of time on the so many questions.

Technical glitches, non-payment of enumerators’ allowances, and flash floods being experienced in several parts of the country continue to stand in the way of the ongoing national census.

Enumerators have also asked for more time to reach out to the various communities as per their scheduled plan.

The government organised the 10-day census to take stock of the number of its citizens for proper planning.

In Kapelebyong District, north of the Teso Sub-region, for instance, the enumerators mandated to work in five parishes of Okoboi, Acinga, Amero, Okungur and Amaseniko have had to improvise canoes to reach some villages.

Mr Francis Akorikin, the district chairperson, said the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos) should have planned better for areas prone to floods to ensure people are counted.

“Ubos should consider adding more days for the entire exercise, especially in the areas that have been hit by flash floods,” he said.

The national census started on May 9 and will run for 10 days.

Flash floods
In Pallisa District, flash floods forced the district leaders to source for boats to reach out to some communities for a successful census, according to Mr Dhikusoka Magidu, the Pallisa Resident District Commissioner (RDC).

In Masindi District, the LC1 chairpersons want to be paid allowances for the extra work done to mobilise locals to participate in the exercise.
“We are spending days and we are not doing anything profitable to us in our homes,” Mr James Wairindi, the Kijweka Village chairperson, said. 

Mr Matia Babwesiza, the chairperson of Kikwanana Cell, Masindi Municipality, echoed similar concerns. 

Mr Godfrey Nyakahuma, the Kabale RDC, however, said the exercise is going on well in his district.

“After arresting a passenger who had refused to be counted on the census night, the residents are complying and the exercise is going well,” he said.

Mr Joseph Muvawala, the executive director of the National Planning Authority, said Uganda needs to adopt a data law, reasoning that the current census is being let down by the inability of the people to avail information to the enumerators.

Will the time be enough?
In Kampala City, enumerators are asking for more time to have all the areas covered.

Mr John Mulindwa, a supervisor in Nateete, said their villages are densely populated yet they spend a lot of time on the so many questions.

“It takes us a lot of time to compile data for one household. Others have to first consult their spouses on the information they are giving us,” he said.

The language barrier has also been a hindrance.

“In some communities, we have to look for an interpreter [for instance Ethiopians and Eritreans) to translate for us, and this has delayed our progress,” he said.

Residents of Kawaala Zone in Rubaga Division appreciated enumerators for effectively handling the exercise.

Ms Jemewo Nakimuli said: “It takes like 30 minutes to one hour to answer all the questions and they do not rush the process, they even allow us to make calls for more clarification,” she said.

In Makindye Division, there were concerns about payment of allowances for the enumerators.

One enumerator claimed that Ubos did not provide him with data bundles and thus he has to spend about Shs2,000 every day on data bundles to allocate GPS and also send household data he collects to the central server.

“Without data, you cannot get GPS and yet they haven’t given us any money,” he complained.

In West Nile Sub-region, technical glitches have equally continued to affect the exercise, with some families still waiting to be enumerated.

In Oluvu Sub-county in Maracha District, some of the villages had not received enumerators by May 14. 

Ms Patricia Namulondo, the census supervisor for Njeru North, Bukaya East, and Bukaya West villages in Njeru Municipality, Buikwe District, said by yesterday, they had enumerated 400 households.

She said that Bukaya West Village, which has more than 1,000 households, was only allocated 10 enumerators, making the work of the enumerators hard.

Mr Justus Mpirirwe, the Ibanda District census officer, said one cult member was arrested for allegedly sabotaging the exercise.

“There is a religious cult whose members were refusing to be counted but we informed the RDC about it and he has intervened. One of the members was arrested. By yesterday [Tuesday], we had enumerated 70,000 people,” he said.

Mr Emmy Kateera, the Mbarara RDC, said: “We are worried that the exercise might not be completed on time because the households are so many and the enumerators are overwhelmed.”

In Mubende, several residents in Mugungulu and neighbouring villages have been reported to be shunning the exercise due to unknown reasons.

Mr George William Kivumbi, the Kirumba Cell chairperson, said the enumerator in his area has barely counted a quarter of the residents and doubts whether he will complete the task.

“The exercise takes a lot of time and asking each enumerator to count at least 13 households in a day was unrealistic.  It is now evident that they will require more time to complete the exercise,” he said.

In the island district of Kalangala, enumerators are facing challenges ranging from fewer materials to power problems. 

Mark Ssegyuya, Nansana, Wakiso
I leave home at 5am and return at 10pm. We are five people in the house but my wife hasn’t told me whether they were counted. 

Joseph Koluo, MP Toroma
I was counted in my village last Friday [May 10] but the enumerators had challenges with the equipment like tablets. They also complained about their allowances. 

Harriet Mugenyi Businge, Hoima Woman MP
I was counted on Friday  [May 10] in Hoima. It was a smooth exercise. I think the response was good. There were no hitches. 

Sarah Nakawunde, Former MP, Mpigi
In Mpigi Town Council, we haven’t seen any enumerators. I have been home at least since Friday waiting for them but no one has shown up. 

Lt Col Allan Kitanda, Gayaza, Wakiso
I was counted at my home in Gayaza. I am not sure whether my neighbours were counted since I do not speak for them. I encourage everyone else to get counted.

Hamisi Mukasa Kakomo, Butambala resident
I was counted on Sunday in Butambala. As for the questions they were asking, the President told us to answer only those that were applicable. 

Compiled by Simon Peter Emwamu, Damali Mukhaye, Mudangha Kolyangha, Fred Wambede, Ismail Bategeka, Robert Muhereza, Naume Biira, Philip Wafula, Abubaker Kirunda, Felix Warom Okello, Taibot Marko, Robert Elema, Clement Aluma, Rajab Mukombozi, Jovita Kyarisiima, Milton Bandiho, Felix Ainebyoona, Barbra Nalweyiso, Malik Fahad Jjingo, Denis Edema, David Sekayinga, Shabibah Nakirigya, Sylivia Katushabe & Priscilla Maloba.