The Uganda National Census has wrapped up. Or has it? Really not sure, but my household is a statistic for the next 10 – 20 years as a basis for planning. There are outcries of enumerators not reaching some areas, children answering questions for households and the general apprehension that the census exercise is just a waste of time.
Census information is a great help for national planning process, however in order for the statistics to be useful and relevant, it is important to continuously update and trend the statistics against existing circumstances.
The one disappointment that I find in the entire result is that the only statistic being reported is that there are 900,000 more females than males, but there is no breakdown or context or analysis of the number. What other statistics or data point can be derived from the numbers?
The question in my mind then is what else can be done to improve the process till the next census and how can technology be leveraged?
– Over the next 10 years regional data collection centers need to be setup to collect data trends over time to update the overall survey. This will leverage the national backbone infrastructure to provide a centralized location for data capture and hosting with localized analysis.
– Civic education for the population on why the information is being asked for, and what the importance is. I still wonder what the number of mobile phones, donkeys and wheelchairs as assets provide to the overall picture. The advertisement process should have been started over 6 months before the exercise, however it was barely noticeable that such an important activity was happening. TV and radio were used, but social media, SMS based options could have improved the coverage.
– All the questionnaires were coded, but the data entry still had to be done, with the advent of $150 tablets, couldn’t this process have been done electronically especially in the towns to cut down data entry errors? The tablets could have been setup to take GPS coordinates to ensure that the enumerators were not filling in the sheets while under trees (common survey issue) providing an opportunity to kickstart electronic data collection in Uganda
– Follow up on missed enumeration, using GPS coordinates overlaying satellite maps along with the white chalk reference numbers would ease the process of identifying and following up households that were missed during the enumeration.
Apart from technology, the following areas were not catered for:
– Enumeration data changes: what the basis for changing the data collected is, how the missing data will be extrapolated where need be, how the new data sets are going to support planning going forward
– Post-enumeration follow up surveys: to collect additional data to correlate the results of the census, as well as pick up localised data points such as transient populations (refugees, migrant workers, nomadic movements), local economic activities, which may not be important nationally.
– Local council authorities owning the census enumeration processes and results in their areas, and raising the bar by verifying the data that comes from their regions
Overall the 2014 census took place and the data is being released. However it is time to take learnings from this exercise and use them to put infrastructure and processes in place improve the next one.