Refugees in Uganda

The inclusion of representative samples of refugees in the national Demographic and Health Survey and the National Household Survey. 

13 Jul, 2023

Overall objectives

The JDC will support the inclusion of refugees in Uganda’s two main surveys – the Demographic and Health Survey, in 2022 (UDHS) and the National Household Survey, in 2023 to 2024 (UNHS), marking another major step towards full inclusion of refugees in national official data production in Uganda. This data, and the data of host communities that is routinely collected through these surveys will inform the provision of services and improve the efficient allocation of resources for the Government of Uganda, UNHCR and the World Bank.  

Data collected through these surveys will help assess the extent to which the various policies and actions of the Uganda government are yielding positives outcomes of all segments of its population regardless of their displacement status. For example, how successful the 2006 Refugee Act and the 2010 Refugee Regulations have been to give refugees’ freedom of movement, the right to work, own property, and access national services such as health and education. 

Activity description

For both UDHS and UNHS, data collection for refugees will utilize the same tools that are used to capture the data of the national population.  


For the UDHS, a “booster” sample for host communities will be supported by this activity, enabling the collection of comparable data which can be used to assess development outcomes for both populations. The JDC will support representative refugee inclusion in the UDHS by adding two refugee strata to the DHS sample, one for the northern and another for the southwestern part of the country, reflecting the current distribution of refugees in the country. A total of 2400 refugee households and the same number of host community households will be surveyed. 


A total of 2100 households will be included in the refugee sample, which includes a stratum for Kampala, in addition to the Northern and Southwestern districts. As the UNHS already includes a sufficient sample for host communities that mirrors the districts hosting refugees, a booster sample is not necessary for hosts. 

Engagement with partners

The UDHS and the UNHS are implemented by Uganda Bureau of Statistics in close collaboration with the Ugandan Ministry of Health. The surveys are funded by United States Agency for International Development, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations Population Fund and the World Bank. UNHCR, the World Bank and the JDC will be the primary international supporters of the refugee expansion, technically, financially and logistically, in collaboration with Uganda’s Office of the Prime Minister. 

Background and Context

Uganda hosts the second-highest number of refugees globally and the highest number in Africa, with over 1.5 million refugees. The majority have arrived in Uganda since 2016 from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Uganda maintains a progressive refugee policy. Its legal framework allows refugees freedom of movement as well as the right to work, establish a business, own property, and access national services. A longtime global leader in its approach to peaceful co-existence with host communities, Uganda provides refugees with plots of land for housing and cultivation in dedicated settlements and access to the same health centers and schools as host communities. As part of its wider commitment to refugees, the Government of Uganda has made an explicit pledge under theGlobal Compactto include refugees into its national statistics. 


For further details on this activity, please contact:

Felix Schmieding – [email protected]

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