Census: how the government will collect data

Uganda will move from manual to digital for the first time in the conduct of the 2024 National Population and Housing Census.

The Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos) says the census exercise will use digital technology to collect, process and disseminate census results. For this, some 120,000 tablets have already been purchased.

Distribution of the tablets began last month, with 3,410 tablets delivered to Gulu, Amolatar, Alebtong and Otuke districts in northern Uganda. So far 71 districts have been covered.

A total of 114,460 enumerators and 18,483 supervisors are expected to participate in the exercise.

Dr Chris Mukiza, CEO of Ubos, said the digital census would enable the country to produce accurate and timely demographic, social and economic data.

The 2024 census under the theme “It’s important to be counted” will be held from May 10 to 19, with May 9 being census night, where Ubos staff will go door-to-door to capture data from residents of the homes.

Previously, census enumerators relied on hard copies of paper questionnaires to manually enter data collected during the census exercise, a process that was said to be time-consuming and tedious.

Amos Kankunda, chairman of the parliamentary committee on Finance, Planning and Economic Development, welcomed the decision to digitize the exercise, saying it would speed up the process of data collection, analysis and distribution, storage and management.

“We should appreciate the digital census, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to use the digital system to count people; rather, enumerators and people collecting data will take advantage of the opportunity provided by their available digital devices (tablets) to enter data as soon as it is accurately collected,” he told this publication yesterday.

“That would mean that as soon as the data is collected, it is entered into the system and saved and also immediately used for further processing,” he added.

Kankunda said the digital census would also facilitate the data disaggregation process.

“It will be quite easy for surveyors to disaggregate the data by age, gender, religion, education level and also disaggregate subcategories of different groups of people such as older people or people with disabilities. “Digital devices can give you practical, immediate results that you want to analyze,” she said.

“The data can also be immediately sent to the collection center in real time, and the information obtained from all parishes can be analyzed at the district, regional and national levels,” Kankunda said.

He said a network system would be used to communicate census information to the centers where the analysis will be carried out.

Some of the devices will eventually be left behind to track information on the implementation of government programs such as the Parish Development Model (PDM).

Kankunda said that in the past, piles of documents (questionnaires) were compiled and then carried out for analysis, a process he described as slow and tedious.

How the devices will be used

Enumerators are expected to collect information using a tablet on all individuals, households, institutions and communities in the assigned enumeration area and transmit data to the server daily.

They are also tasked with notifying the Census Enumeration Supervisor daily of field progress, preparing an end-of-task report, maintaining all census materials and equipment in perfect working condition, and then delivering census materials and tools to their supervisors.

State Planning Minister Amos Lugoloobi said the tablets are waterproof and can withstand any conditions, among others.

He said after the census, the same devices would help in other government programs and activities, including elections, renewals of national identity cards by the National Identification Registration Authority and the PDM.

Dr Aminah Zawedde, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, told Daily Monitor yesterday that the decision to digitize the census is in line with Uganda’s digital transformation agenda.

Differences between digital and manual systems.

Digital: After an enumerator, using the tablet, has captured the data, it will be sent to supervisors for validation and to ensure that all households have been captured.

Once the supervisor confirms that the data captured is authentic and matches all the questionnaires that have been submitted, he uses the tablet to send the data to the data center in Kampala.

The data center team will then validate and process the data using computers. After validation, the data will be processed and preliminary results will be published at the end of June, interim results in September and final results will be published in December 2024.

Manual system: Previously, Ubos printed the questionnaires on paper and gave the hard copies to the enumerators.

Enumerators would capture data by manually completing questionnaires in booklet form and then send the booklets to the data center in Kampala, where the data would be transferred to computers for processing and validation.