Uganda: Including Refugees in the Demographic and Health Survey 


Drafted in collaboration with the Uganda Bureau of Statistics.


Uganda currently hosts an estimated 1.7 million refugees, making it Africa’s largest refugee hosting country [1]. The country maintains a progressive refugee policy and legal framework that supports refugees and their right to work, establish a business, own property, and access national services such as health centres and schools. However, the recent influx of refugees, mostly from Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, has posed multiple challenges.  

Significant efforts have been made in Uganda to improve available data and analysis on forced displacement, including an explicit pledge under the Global Compact on Refugees to include refugees in national statistics. In addition, in 2018 the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) and the Office of the Prime Minister, with support from the World Bank conducted the Uganda Refugee and Host Communities Household Survey with important findings on the socio-economic profile of the population. Taking further steps towards statistical inclusion, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics incorporated refugees into the 2022 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS-7). 



Uganda Demographic & Health Survey 2022

The UDHS-7 is a nationally representative household survey that provides data for a wide range of monitoring and impact evaluation indicators in the areas of population, health and nutrition. Two additional strata have been added to the DHS sample in the northern and southwestern parts of the country which hosts the refugee populations. Results will be used to inform policymaking and planning, monitoring, and evaluation of health programs at national and regional levels, now including considerations of the refugee population.  

To design and implement the survey, the UBOS is working closely with the Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Health, UNHCR, UNFPA, UN Women, UNICEF, the World Bank and the JDC in addition to others of the DHS Steering Committee. Particular care was taken to increase response rates in the targeted communities in collaboration with local authorities.  

The UDHS-7 survey was conducted from July to December 2022, with the refugee strata covering a total of 80 enumeration areas and 2,276 households in refugee and host communities. The listing of refugee households was based on data from the 2018 socio-economic refugee household survey. In total, a population of 11,773 individuals 2,349 women aged 15–49 and 546 men aged 15–54 were successfully interviewed. The refugee component follows the UDHS-7 protocols for sampling, data collection, analysis and reporting.

Results were published and shared in November 2023.

The Use of the International Recommendations


The refugee component of the UDHS-7 questionnaire was informed by the IRRS. As an example of inclusion in a national household survey, the entire activity is an example of the recommendations being put into practice. More specifically, different parts of the recommendations were used to inform the development of the survey such as identification of individual refugees within households, and steps to enhance collaboration amongst different stakeholders at national and sub-national level to conduct the survey. In addition, alongside the main report, a dedicated report on the results related to the refugee population was published in 2024. 


The case of UDHS-7 presents an important example for the implementation of the IRRS, particularly in the collection of demographic and health data related to refugees and host communities. Lessons learned in the process so far include early engagement with key stakeholders and targeted information campaigns as critical components in the process to ensure good quality data and results.

Looking forward, UBOS has plans to include refugees, IDPs and stateless persons in their Uganda National Household Survey in 2023 and the forthcoming National Population and Housing Census. These efforts will benefit from guidance of the IRRS, the IRIS and the IROSS and learning from the EGRISS community more widely .

[1] See UNHCR Global Focus: 

[2] See: Informing the Refugee Policy Response in Uganda: Results from the Uganda Refugee and Host Communities 2018 Household Survey (