The provisional results of the 2014 national housing and population census, which were released on Tuesday by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos), have raised more questions than answers, according to population experts.
Among the main questions that have come up is why the total population figure of 34.9 million people was lower than the projected 36.6 million. Experts also question whether the urbanisation figures correspond with the real rate of urbanisation in the country. In addition, analysts are asking why the census didn’t cover day populations in urban centres.
The preliminary results, released after the August 27 to September 7 census, indicate that the portion of Ugandans now living in urban centres has jumped from 2.9 million in 2002 to 6.4 million in 2014. But what is behind these figures?
Speaking at the release of the provisional results, the Ubos executive director, Dr Ben Paul Mungyereza, noted that whereas it is true that the country is urbanising, the phenomenon needs to be contextualised. He noted that during the census, Ubos looked at urbanisation in terms of the number of people living in gazetted urban centres like town councils, municipalities and cities such as Kampala.
“This [urbanisation] is partly because of natural population increase and an increase in the number of urban centres from 75 in 2002 to 197 in 2014, and an expansion in the geographical area of some urban centres,” the report notes.
Mungyereza attributes the skyrocketing urbanisation figures to the creation of many districts as opposed to actual urbanisation. He explains that every time a district is created, the district headquarters automatically becomes a town council not withstanding that it might be as good as a village.
His argument finds credence in many town councils created by virtue of hosting district headquarters such as Buliisa, whose town council has a total population of 7,285 people and is largely a village, though it is counted as an urban council. This means that if the country had not created so many districts, the number of people living in urban areas wouldn’t be as high as it today.
This is seen in the fact that there are 149 urban centres with a population of less than 25,000 persons. The report also reveals that Wakiso town council is the fastest growing urban area in the country. This is followed by Hoima, Mukono and Masindi municipalities, among others. Wakiso town council is growing at 11 per cent, Hoima at 10 per cent Masindi at 8.9 per cent.
These growth rates are above the national average growth rates of five per cent for most urban centres, which is considered as normal. Interestingly Jinja is growing at 0.2 per cent. The report didn’t explain why Hoima and Masindi are the fastest growing municipalities in the country ahead of traditional municipalities.
Though, Dr Mungyereza called for separate research studies to explain the trends, one reason could be the oil discovery in the Albertine graben, which has attracted many people to the region. This could also explain why a remote district like Nwoya in Acholi is experiencing a high growth rate at 9.6 per cent.
Dr Ssekamate Sebuliba, head of the population and social sector at National Planning Authority (NPA), criticised the fact that the census didn’t cover day populations for urban centres.
“This is very important because in determining service provision, what is more important is the day population,” he argued.
Mungyereza acknowledged that the census didn’t cover day population because they only counted people who slept in the area on the census night. He explained that that method of enumeration explains why the population of Wakiso is higher that Kampala since many people work in Kampala but sleep in Wakiso district.
Ssekamate also notes that though the population growth rate declined from 3.2 per cent to 3.03 per cent, it remains high. The effect, he said, is that it complicates the country’s ability to provide jobs and increases the number of dependants since the largest portion of the population is children.
“The number of women in the reproductive age of between 15 and 49 is estimated to be 7.3 million and expected to give birth to 1.5 million births in 2015,” the report notes.
Mungyereza also acknowledged that many people were never enumerated.
“There are some households we couldn’t get especially single- person households. They leave their houses in the morning and come back at night so, our enumerators couldn’t capture them,” he admitted.
Matia Kasaija, the state minister in-charge of Planning, said the government would use the new figures in indicative planning and service delivery beginning with the 20152016 financial year. He urged Ubos to ensure that people understand the figures.
Source : The Observer