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Misconceptions, Land Conflicts Threaten Census Mapping in Northern Region

UBOS is undertaking the census mapping of all places in the country which includes the documentation of all areas from the smallest unit and marking of all land borders from villages to district levels.
David Ochieng the UBOS team leader in Northern regional office (L) and Sharon Apiyo, the Senior Statistician of UBOS at the Gulu Regional Office. Photo by Emmy Daniel Ojara

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Misconceptions and land conflicts in the northern region have been identified as key hindrances to the ongoing census mapping exercise by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS).

UBOS is undertaking the census mapping of all places in the country which includes the documentation of all areas from the smallest unit and marking of all land borders from villages to district levels.   The northern region includes Lango, Acholi, and the West Nile sub-regions.

The census mapping which commenced in August 2021 and is expected to stop at the end of the year has since been undertaken in some parts of the West Nile and Lango sub-regions and is set to kick off in Acholi which composes the northern region.  

It involves the use of the Geographical Positioning Satellite (GPS) to take coordinates, it is among the key preparatory activities undertaken prior to the actual counting of people. Other pre-activities include the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS) and Uganda Business Inquiry (UBI).  

The team undertaking the exercise in the region has raised concerns citing its ineffectiveness due to rigidity from members of the community, unwillingness to participate, and concealing of information that arises from misconceptions, and land conflicts in the areas.  

David Ochieng the UBOS team leader in the Northern regional office told URN on Thursday that they have had experiences of resistance from the local community, providing false information, and concealment of information due to misconceptions about the exercise. 

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He explained that people are reluctant to provide accurate information thinking that it will be used against them to grab their land or subject them to taxation by the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).  

Some areas that were identified with challenges include the Apaa Township bordering Amuru and Adjumani districts whose ownership is contested by the Acholi and Madi tribes as well as Mede and Oroko parishes in Palaro Sub County which are contested by Gulu and Amuru districts.   

Ochieng who expressed concerns noted that the lack of rightful information and denial of truth being provided will affect the formulation of government policies set to help the population.  

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Sharon Apiyo, the Senior Statistician of UBOS at the Gulu Regional Office said that the information being collected is purely meant for the formulation of government policies adding that it is handled with maximum confidentiality.  

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The team has now embarked on a massive awareness creation campaign through local leaders and different stakeholders seeking a mindset change and embracement of the initiative.  

On Thursday the Gulu Regional UBOS team engaged the local leadership in the area at Palema Crown Hotel in Gulu City seeking to rally the local community to cooperate with the surveyors.  

Ballington Pa Onwgech, the Finance Secretary for the Gulu District asked local leaders to provide rightful information to the public for the success of the exercise noting that the local people believe in what they see.  

Ballington also wants the ministry of Local Government to expeditious the resolutions of the numerous border conflicts in order to allay the fears of the community.  

However, a resident of Apaa Township who only identified himself as Michael says they no longer have trust in the government hence the adamancy in providing rightful information.  

The census night has been scheduled for the 24th and 25th of August 2023 and everyone is expected to provide their details from wherever they will be.

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