Census Basic Concepts, Definitions and Terms

The basic census concepts and terms including population census, housing census, census night, locality, building, household, enumeration area, questionnaire, de-facto census, place of usual residence, literacy, post enumeration and difficulties in performing activities.

  • Population Census
  • Housing Census
  • Census night
  • Locality
  • Building
  • Household
  • Enumeration Area
  • de-facto Census
  • Place of Usual Residence
  • Literacy
  • Post Enumeration and
  • Concept of difficulties in performing activities

Population Census

A population Census is the total process of collecting, compiling, evaluating, analysing and publishing or  otherwise disseminating demographic, economic and social data at the smallest geographical level of appropriate pertaining at a a specified time, to all persons in a country or in a well-delimited part of a country.

Housing Census

A population Census is the total process of collecting, compiling, evaluating, analysing and publishing or  otherwise disseminating  statistical data relating to the number and condition of housing units and facilities as available to the households pertaining at a specified time, to all living quarters and occupants thereof in a country or in a well delimited part of a country.

Census Reference Period

The census reference period is the time from the zero hour (00:00) of the first enumeration day to the midnight (24:00hrs) of the last enumeration day

Census Night

A census night is the night immediately before the first day of enumeration. It is the night set for enumeration of the homeless persons.


According to UN recommendation, a locality is defined as a distinct population cluster (also designated as inhabited place, populated centre, settlement and so forth) in which the inhabitants live in neighbouring sets of living quarters, has a name or a locally recognised status.

It includes fishing camps, hamlets, mining camps, ranches, farms, markets, towns, villages, cities and many other population.

Types of Locality

There are four types of locality for the purpose of census.

  1. Sub-Primary Locality: It is a settlement which does not independently exist on its own in terms of rulership, social, political and economics activities.
  2. Primary Locality: Existing with distinct name and inhabitants.
  3. Secondary locality: A settlement with two or more contiguous primary localities with an LGA.
  4. Tertiary locality: It is a settlement comprising of two or more secondary or primary localities that has expanded across two or more LGAs.

A building is defined as any free-standing structure comprising of one or more rooms, covered by a roof or not and may or may not be enclosed within external or dividing walls.
A building may be used for residential, commercial or industrial purposes.

Types of Structure
  1. Bungalow (Detached): A building without an upper floor and is not attached in any wat to another building.
  2. One-storey (Detached): A building with an upper floor and is not attached in any wat to another building.
  3. Two-Storey (Detached): A building with two upper floor and is not attached in any wat to another building.
  4. Multiple-Storey (Detached): A building with three or more upper floor and is not attached in any wat to another building.
  5. Bungalow (Semi-detached): A single-family home that shares  single wall with the next building.
  6. One-Storey (Semi-Detached): A building with one upper floor that shares a single wall with the next building.
  7. Two-storey (Semi-Detached): A  building with two floors that shares a single wall with the next building.
  8. Multiple-Storey (Semi-Detached): A building with three or more upper floors that shares a single wall with the next building.
  9. Terrace: A row of buildings/houses that are joined to each other.
  10. Meta Container/Shed: A container is usually a steel cabin used to ship goods but now converted for various uses. e.g shops. stores, office or residence.
  11. Portal Cabin: Buildings built with mud and thatched palm fronds for roofs.
  12. Kiosk: A small opened-fronted hut or cubicle from which newspapers, refreshments, tickets, recharge cards, etc are sold.


A compound is a building or group of buildings usually enclosed or not by a wall and having one or more structural units with a common entrance.

A household consists of a person or group of persons living together usually under the same roof or in the same building or compound, who share the same source of food and recognise themselves as a social unit with a head of household.

Criteria for Classifying Households
  1. Living under the same roof/compound
  2. Seeing themselves as a unit
  3. Sharing of same catering arrangement
  4. Recognising one adult member as head
  5. May or may not be related by blood
Types of Household Categories

  1. Occupied Housing Units
  2. Homeless Household
  3. Secondary Units for same household
  4. Institutional household
  5. Transient population
  6. Diplomatic Corps
  7. Home Persons
  8. Nomadic Households
  9. Fishing and Hunting households
  10. Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)

Head of Household

This is a member of a household whom the other members of the household recognise as such. She/he is usually an adult and may be male or female.


Enumeration is the process interviewing all the members of a given population and collecting socio-demographics and other information about each person.

Enumeration Area (EA)

This is an area carved out of a bigger locality or a group of localities with well-defined and identifiable boundaries.

The essence of carving out these units tis to avoid any omission or duplication of count of people and households during enumeration.

A multi-locality is an EA comprising of one more than one locality.

De Facto Census

A de facto census is a population census in which people seen are enumerated according to where they stayed/slept on the night preceding the day of the enumerator’s visit.

Post Enumeration Survey (PES)

This refers to a sample survey carried on a fraction of the population after the census had taken place to measure the quality of the full main census.

Place of Usual Residence

This refers to the place where the respondent lives most of the time, engages in economic activities and social activities and has his living quarters.

It is the place where the respondent  sleeps, keep his personal belongings and from where she/he goes to work or school or interact socially. It is geographical area where the respondent lives.

Difficulty in Performing Activities

This refers to difficulty a person may have in undertaking basic functioning activities, including seeing, hearing, walking or climbing stairs, remembering or concentrating, self-care, communication (expressive and receptive), upper body activities, affect (depression and anxiety), pain and fatigue.


Literacy refers to person ability both to read and write with understanding in any language. It means if one can read, but cannot write, he/she is illiterate.

A literate person can read and write with understanding a short and simple statement about his/her daily life in any language (local or foreign).

A person who can read and write only figures and/or own name is illiterate. Also. any person who can read and/or write only a ritual (ceremonious or religious) phrase, which is memorised is illiterate.

A person has to be age six or more to be treated as literate person for the purpose of census.

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2 responses

  1. Anonymous

    What should I do if my own is still pending

  2. Visit the census office in your LGA or state office if residing there

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