Census start marred by faulty gadgets, protests by enumerators

Census start marred by faulty gadgets, protests by enumerators
Hellen Nviiri, Director Population and Social Statistics, using one of the gadgets to successfully enumerate Archbishop Paul Ssemogerere of Kampala Archdiocese at his Rubaga residence on Friday 10, May 2024.

Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | The National Census rollout encountered numerous challenges across various regions at its outset. Started last night to count the transient population, the process is scheduled to continue for ten days until May 19th.

In certain areas of the country, the census, slated to commence at 8:00 am, had not commenced by noon on Friday 10, May 2024. In Luwero District, for instance, enumerators in several zones, including Lumu and Kasoma in Luwero town council, encountered issues with faulty tablets, hindering the enumeration process.

Enumerators such as Kato Charles and Nabyonga Sauda, assigned to the Lumu and Kasoma zones respectively, reported difficulties in logging in and initiating the census.

Acknowledging these challenges, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) acknowledged that while some areas faced issues, the majority of the enumeration proceeded smoothly. UBOS attributed problems to approximately 20,000 enumerators hired by local administrations, while noting that the remaining 94,000 directly recruited enumerators encountered no such issues.

“We wish to apologise, however, for the delay to reach you this morning. This has in certain places been caused by technical challenges in the Computer Aided Personal Interview (CAPI) machines we are using for the first time to collect the data. Some enumerators are also facing logging in challenges because the technology in new. Besides, there are some machines that somehow slipped through the process without the relevant software being properly installed,” a UBOS official said.

A census official, speaking on condition of anonymity out of concern for potential repercussions, disclosed that the tablets arrived late, and they did not receive the complete Census Kit. As of noon, officials were still awaiting the remaining kits from Kampala.

In Mbale and Tororo districts, the census rollout faced delays due to malfunctioning gadgets and inadequate internet connectivity. Rashid Okello, an enumerator, noted their attempts to log into the gadgets were unsuccessful.

At the Malaba Border, Town Clerk Isacc Omella cited a late start to the census due to a shortage of essential equipment such as umbrellas, boots, bags, and aprons. Some enumerators expressed discomfort working without proper identification, fearing a lack of trust from the community.

In Fort Portal, over 100 enumerators declined to participate in the census, protesting a reduction in training allowances. They claimed they were initially promised 20,000 Shillings per day for nine days but were later informed of a reduction to 10,000 Shillings without explanation.

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“We shall not count the people until UBOS explains why they have deducted 10,000 shillings,” Moses Irumba one of the enumerators said.

Protests erupted among enumerators in Kawempe and Makindye Divisions, Kampala. In Bwaise Parish, Kawempe, some recruited enumerators staged a protest at the division headquarters, citing unclear working terms.

In Makindye, enumerators lacked reflector jackets for identification and voiced grievances regarding non-payment and the absence of data connection for tablets.

Didacus Okoth, the Senior Public Relations Officer at the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), assured that they were actively addressing issues reported from various regions. “We are working tirelessly to resolve any challenges arising. The process spans 10 days, and we assure Ugandans of its successful completion,” Okoth stated when reached for comment.