Ugandans urged to tolerate lengthy, uncomfortable questions as Census starts

Ms Hellen Nviiri, Director Population and Social Statistics at Ubos, enumerating Archbishop Paul Ssemogerere of Kampala Archdiocese at his Rubaga residence.

Kampala, (UG):- Ugandans across the country have been urged to tolerate lengthy, uncomfortable questions as the 2024 National Population and Housing Census kicks off. The exercise which began today, Friday 10th May 2024 will be running until May 19th.

Unlike previous census exercises, this year’s census is the first to be conducted digitally, using tablet computers and the Government designated the first day of the census a public holiday in the country to enable the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) to reach as many people in their homes.

The census, as UBOS has explained over time, is intended to capture a “snapshot” of what is taking place in Uganda on the night of May 9th (yesterday), which was designated as the ‘Census Night. Officials say questions to answer will be based on who was in the county on that day.

UBOS officials confirmed last night that the census questionnaire will have a long list of questions. This came after media reports last week indicated that Ugandans will have to answer up to 180 questions.

“The questions are not few, but it is important that we answer all of them because this is an exercise that happens once in 10 years,” Mr Stephen Baryahirwa, the Field Operations Officer at UBOS told the media earlier this week.

Baryahirwa explained that this time around, household questionnaires will be much longer than institutional questionnaires (for instance people who will be found and counted in schools, and hospitals) or those who will be found at their workstations or on the road.

Uncomfortable Questions

He further urged Ugandans to bear with some questions as they might feel uncomfortable with some groups of people.

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“For instance, there will be questions asked of children as young as 10 years old, about their sexual reproductive health,” he said.

“Women will also be asked to disclose all their children including those they might have had outside of wedlock,” the Ubos official added. To ensure that they speak freely, he says enumerators have been asked to speak to such women privately.

Meanwhile, Ms Hellen Nviiri, the UBOS Principal Statistician says such information is needed to better planning of the country. “If we are asking 10-year-olds if they are sexually active, it is because we need to know where to start in fighting teenage pregnancies. We need to know where these girls are and how many they are,” she said.

The majority of the questions, according to her, will be answered by the heads of household, but in cases they are not around, it will be anybody found at home who is able to answer the questions.

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“We have a code for when a questionnaire is not complete for a given household and the enumerator can always come back at another date,” said Nviiri.

Ubos warned Ugandans that resisting or refusing to be counted is an arrestable offence that carries a maximum sentence of 6 months in jail, but officials say people who do not answer questions to questions will be given another chance.

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