Uganda Gears Up for 2024 Census, Citizens Urged to Participate

As the 2024 National Population and Housing Census draws closer, Uganda is filled with anticipation, with a collective call for every citizen to participate. The Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) urges all citizens to stay at home on the night of May 9th, 2024, in preparation for the census scheduled for May 10th, 2024.
James Muwonge, the Director of Methodology and Statistical Coordination at UBOS, confirmed that government has already completed 95% of the preparations, making them ready for the exercise that occurs every ten years.
Speaking on the importance of the upcoming census, Muwonge emphasized that it serves as a fundamental pillar for effective governance and development initiatives.
“As the census theme states, ‘It matters to be counted’, A census is not just about counting numbers; it’s about understanding communities, identifying unique needs, and crafting tailored solutions,” Muwonge remarked, highlighting the profound impact of comprehensive data collection on informed decision-making and societal progress.
For Uganda, a country facing diverse needs amid a rapidly growing population of over 45 million, the census holds immense importance. It serves as the foundation for effective governance and development initiatives, guiding decisions on resource allocation, infrastructure projects, and political representation.
Census-taking in Uganda dates back to 1911 during the colonial era, with subsequent counts occurring approximately every decade. From revealing a population of 2.5 million in 1911 to 34.6 million in 2014, these enumerations have documented Uganda’s demographic evolution and informed policymaking.

Stepping into the Digital Era
One key highlight is UBOS’s advancement in data collection, moving away from printed questionnaires to the Computer-Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) system. The bureau has already purchased 120,000 tablets and over 100 computers for the census, training enumerators on their use.
According to the census information kit published this year, all information will be directly recorded on tablet PCs, which will also capture Geographic Positioning System (GPS) coordinates to ensure accurate data collection.
“The use of CAPI tablets will help ease the data collection process and facilitate the timely transmission of collected data to the servers at the central data processing center managed by the Bureau,” the published material stated.
Muwonge added that although the census will be conducted digitally, it will still involve door-to-door enumeration to ensure accurate counting. Preliminary results will be available by June, provisional results by September, and final results by December.
This digital leap marks a significant milestone in Uganda’s census history, promising more efficient and reliable data for informed decision-making and development planning. Despite concerns about internet connectivity in some areas, UBOS plans to use an offline system to capture data, which can be updated once internet access is available.

Preparation for Census Participation
Citizens are urged to participate wholeheartedly in the census to ensure accurate data collection. Muwonge underscored the importance of households being prepared with crucial details, emphasizing cooperation in providing accurate information.
“This preparation streamlines the thorough counting of individuals and guarantees the dependability of data collected,” he emphasized.
Households should have the following information ready: names and relationships to the household head, date of birth and age, ethnicity and clan, religion, parents’ survival status, previous residence, and migration history, among others.

Misconceptions and Conspiracy Theories
Amid the anticipation surrounding Uganda’s forthcoming census, concerns have arisen among citizens regarding the activity. Alex Kassajja, a Mukono resident, expressed suspicions that the government might exploit the census to introduce additional taxes or engage in surveillance activities.
“The government is suspicious. Back in the 2000s, they asked us about TVs, and soon after, a tax was introduced in our area. Nowadays, we pay for TV, adding to our tax burden, but we don’t see any services in return,” Kassajja noted.
However, it’s essential to clarify that this is just one misconception regarding government programs. The introduction of pay-TV services coincided with the digitalization of broadcasting. Despite this, free-to-air digital TV options are available, aiming to provide accessible television services nationwide.
Efforts have been made to ensure equitable access to digital TV services, offering residents alternatives that don’t impose additional financial burdens.
The apprehensions voiced by some residents underscore the crucial need to foster trust and transparency in the census process to ensure widespread participation. Reflecting on past experiences, instances where residents evaded enumeration have been documented, potentially impacting data accuracy.
In response to these concerns, James Muwonge reiterated UBOS’s commitment to upholding privacy rights and using census data solely for constructive purposes. He emphasized that the census aims to facilitate informed decision-making and equitable development initiatives.
“In fostering trust and transparency in the census process, we are committed to upholding privacy rights and utilizing census data solely for constructive purposes. Our aim is to facilitate informed decision-making and equitable development initiatives, ensuring that every citizen’s voice is heard and accounted for,” he added.

Why Does It Matter to Be Counted?
As Uganda moves towards a new era of progress and prosperity, every Ugandan must participate in the census to ensure that every voice is heard, every community is counted, and every citizen is recognized.
With a rapidly expanding population of over 45 million, according to World Bank data, Uganda faces significant challenges in meeting the diverse needs of its citizens across various sectors, such as healthcare, education, infrastructure, and social services. Accurately counting the population is essential for effective governance and development initiatives.
Census data plays a significant role in formulating policies and monitoring and evaluating national development programs at the national and local government levels. It is essential for executing various national programs such as electoral roadmaps and ID rollouts, promoting governance efficacy and accountability.

Key Reasons to Participate in the Census

  1. Informing National Development Plans: Census data directly informs the National Development Plan (NDP) series and monitors initiatives like the Parish Development Model (PDM), enabling targeted and effective development planning.
  2. Inclusivity and Representation: The census ensures representation and social protection for marginalized groups, promoting equity and fairness in societal development.
  3. Resource Allocation: Census data guides government decisions on resource allocation for schools, hospitals, and infrastructure projects, ensuring equitable distribution to meet regional and demographic needs.
  4. Political Representation: Census data shapes political representation by redrawing electoral boundaries for fair and proportional representation in government.
  5. Socioeconomic Insights: Businesses, investors, and policymakers rely on census data to identify market opportunities, assess labor supply and demand, and drive sustainable growth and development.
    In essence, the census is more than just a data-gathering exercise; it is a fundamental tool for steering Uganda toward sustainable development and prosperity. By actively participating, Ugandans can shape their nation’s future and ensure that no community is left behind.
    The 2024 Census stands as a pivotal moment in Uganda’s commitment to robust demographic data collection, guiding decisions that will shape the nation’s trajectory for years to come.