10.5. Manage organisation units

In this section you will learn how to:

10.5.1. About organisation units

The organisation unit hierarchy defines the organisation structure of DHIS2, for example how health facilities, administrative areas and other geographical areas are arranged with respect to each other. It is the "where" dimension of DHIS2, similar to how periods represent the "when" dimension.

The organisation unit hierarchy is built up by parent-child relations. In DHIS2, each of these nodes is an organisation unit. A country might for example have eight provinces, and each province might have a number of districts as children. Normally, the lowest levels consist of facilities where data is collected. Data collecting facilities can also be located at higher levels, for example national or provincial hospitals. Therefore, you can create skewed organisation trees in DHIS2.

  • You can only have one organisation hierarchy at the same time.

  • You can have any number of levels in a hierarchy.

    Typically national organisation hierarchies in public health have four to six levels.

  • You can create additional classifications by using organisation groups and organisation group sets.

    For example to create parallel administrative boundaries to the health care sector.

  • It is recommended to use organisation unit groups to create a non-geographical hierarchy.

  • An organisation unit can only be a member of a single organisation unit group within an organisation unit group set.

  • The organisation unit hierarchy is the main vehicle for data aggregation on the geographical dimension.

[Important]Changing the organisation unit hierarchy

You can change the organisation unit hierarchy after you've created it, even organisation units that collect data. However, DHIS2 always uses the latest hierarchy for data aggregation. So if you change the hierarchy, you loose the temporal representation of the hierarchy across time.

Example 10.9. 

District A is sub-divided into District B and District C. Facilities which belonged to District A are reassigned to District B and C. Any historical data, which you entered before the split occurred, is still registered as belonging to District B and C, not to the obsolete District A.


In the Maintenance app, you manage the following organisation unit objects:

Table 10.10. Organisation unit objects in the Maintenance app

Object type

Available functions

Organisation unit

Create, edit, clone, delete, show details and translate

Organisation unit group

Create, edit, clone, share, delete, show details and translate

Organisation unit group set

Create, edit, clone, share, delete, show details and translate

Organisation unit level

Edit and translate

Hierarchy operations

Move organisation units


10.5.2. Workflow

The recommended workflow is:

  1. Create organisation units.

  2. Create organisation unit groups.

  3. Create organisation unit group sets.

10.5.3. Create an organisation unit

You add organisation units to the hierarchy one by one, either as a root unit or as a child of a selected organisation unit. You can only have one root unit.

To create a new organisation unit:

  1. Open the Maintenance app and click Organisation units > Organisation unit.

  2. In the left-hand organisation unit tree, select the organisation unit you want to add the new organisation unit to. The selected organisation unit is marked in yellow.

    You can locate an organisation unit in the tree by expanding the branches (click on the arrow symbol), or by searching for it by name or code.

    [Note]Note

    The search is case-insensitive for organisation unit names. For codes you need to type the exact code.

  3. Click the add button.

  4. In the Name field, define the precise name of the organisation unit.

    Each organisation unit must have an unique name.

  5. In the Short name field, define a short name for the organisation unit.

    Typically, the short name is an abbreviation of the full organisation unit name. This attribute is often used in reports to display the name of the organisation unit, where space is limited.

  6. (Optional) In the Code field, assign a code.

    In many countries organisation units are assigned a code.

  7. In the Description field, type a description of the organisation unit.

  8. Select an Opening date.

    The opening dates control which organisation units that where existing at a point in time, for example when analysing historical data. This attribute is mandatory.

  9. If applicable, select a Closed date.

  10. In the Comment field, enter any additional information that you would like to add.

  11. (Optional) In the URL field, enter a link to an external web site that has additional information about the organisation unit.

  12. Enter contact information:

    • Contact person

    • Address

    • E-mail

    • Phone number

    This information can be vital for facilitating follow-up.

  13. If applicable, enter custom attributes values, for example HR identifier.

    You set custom attributes in Data administration > Attribute. For more information about how to use attributes, refer to the "Attributes" section.

  14. (Optional) Enter coordinates.

  15. Click Save.

10.5.4. Create an organisation unit group

Organisation unit groups allow you to classify related organisation units into a common theme. You can for example group all organisation units that are hospitals in an Hospital group.

To create a new organisation unit group:

  1. Open the Maintenance app and click Organisation units > Organisation unit group.

  2. Click the add button.

  3. Fill in the form:

    1. Name: Provide a precise, unique and descriptive name for the organisation unit group.

    2. Short name: The short name should be less than 25 characters. Typically, the short name is an abbreviation of the full organisation unit name. This attribute is used in certain places in DHIS2 where space is limited.

    3. Code

    4. Symbol: Select a symbol which will be used to display the organisation unit (points only) when the layer is displayed in the GIS app.

  4. In the organisation tree, click the organisation units you want to add to the organisation unit group.

    You can locate an organisation unit in the tree by expanding the branches (click on the arrow symbol), or by searching for it by name.

    The selected organisation units display in orange.

  5. Click Save.

10.5.5. Create an organisation unit group set

Organisation unit group sets allows you to create additional classifications of organisation units. The group sets create new dimensions so that you can make a more detailed data analysis. You an easily filter, organise or aggregate data by groups within a group set.

  • You can have any number of organisation unit group sets.

  • The default organisation unit group sets are Type and Ownership.

  • An organisation unit group set is always exclusive: an organisation unit can't be a member of more than one group in a group set.

    You can only select a single organisation group membership for each group set when you create a new organisation unit.

  • You can define whether an organisation unit group set is compulsory or not, which will affect the completeness of the data. Compulsory means that all organisation units must be member of a group in that group set.

[Note]Data completeness

In the Data integrity part of the Data administration app you can verify if you've accidentally assigned the same organisation unit to multiple groups within the same group set. In this app you also find information about organisation units that are not members of a compulsory organisation unit group set.

To create an organisation unit group set:

  1. Open the Maintenance app and click Organisation units > Organisation unit group set.

  2. Click the add button.

  3. Fill in:

    1. Name: Provide a precise name for the organisation unit group set.

    2. Code

    3. Description: Describe what the organisation unit group set measures or captures.

  4. If you want all organisation units to be members of a group within the group set, select Compulsory.

  5. (Optional) Select Data dimension.

  6. Select organisation unit groups and assign them.

    In the left-hand list, you find the available organisation unit groups. Use the arrows to move selected groups between the two lists.

    If there are no organisation unit groups in the left-hand list, click Add new. In the form that opens, create the organisation units group you need. When you're done, click Refresh values.

    [Note]Note

    An organisation unit can only be a member of a single organisation unit group within an organisation unit group set.

  7. Click Save.

Example 10.10. Classify facilities based on ownership

You want to analyse data based on the ownership of the facilities. All facilities have an owner so you need to make sure that all organisation units get this classification. To do that you can use the Compulsory option:

  1. Create a group for each ownership type, for example "MoH", "Private" and "Faith-based".

  2. Assign all facilities in the database to one of these groups.

  3. Create an organisation unit group set called "Ownership" and select Compulsory.

  4. Assign the organisation unit groups "MoH", "Private" and "Faith-based" to the "Ownership" organisation group set.


10.5.6. Edit organisation units and other objects

  1. Open the Maintenance app and click Organisation units.

  2. Select the object type you want to edit, for example organisation unit or organisation unit group.

  3. In the list, find the object you want to modify.

  4. Click the options menu and select Edit.

  5. Modify the options you want.

  6. Click Save.

10.5.7. Clone organisation units and other objects

Cloning an organisation unit can save time when you create many similar organisation units.

  1. Open the Maintenance app and click Organisation units.

  2. Select the object type you want to clone, for example organisation unit or organisation unit group.

  3. In the list, find the object you want to modify.

  4. Click the options menu and select Clone.

  5. Modify the options you want.

  6. Click Save.

10.5.8. Change sharing settings for organisation unit groups and group sets

  1. Open the Maintenance app and click Organisation units.

  2. Select Organisation unit group or Organisation unit group set.

  3. In the list, find the object you want to modify.

  4. Click the options menu and select Share.

  5. (Optional) Search for a user group and select it. The user group is added to the list.

  6. Change the settings for the user groups you want to modify.

    • Can view: Everyone in the user group can view the object

    • Can edit: Everyone in the user group can view and edit the object

    The default setting is that everyone (Public access) can view and edit objects.

  7. Click Close.

10.5.9. Delete organisation units and other objects

  1. Open the Maintenance app and click Organisation units.

  2. Select the object type you want to delete, for example organisation unit or organisation unit group.

  3. In the list, find the object you want to delete.

  4. Click the options menu and select Delete.

  5. Click OK to confirm.

10.5.10. Display details of organisation units and other objects

  1. Open the Maintenance app and click Organisation units.

  2. Select the object type you want to display, for example organisation unit or organisation unit group.

  3. In the list, find the object you want to display.

  4. Click the options menu and select Show details.

10.5.11. Translate organisation units and other objects

DHIS2 provides functionality for translations of database content for example data elements, data element groups, indicators, indicator groups and validation rules. You can translate these objects to any number of locales. A locale represents a specific geographical, political, or cultural region.

[Tip]Tip

To activate a translation, go to Apps > Settings > Appearance and select a language.

  1. Open the Maintenance app and click Organisation units.

  2. Select the object type you want to translate, for example organisation unit or organisation unit group.

  3. In the list, find the object you want to translate.

  4. Click the options menu and select Translate.

    If you want to translate an organisation unit level, click directly on the Translate icon next to each list item.

  5. Select a locale.

  6. Enter the required information.

  7. Click Close.

10.5.12. Assign names to organisation unit levels

When you add children to an organisation unit, DHIS2 automatically creates a new organisation unit level if necessary. The system also assigns a generic name to this level, for example "Level 5". You can replace the generic name with a contextual name, for example "Country", "Province", "District" or "Health Facility". DHIS2 uses the contextual names anywhere levels are referred to, for example in the GIS app.

  1. Open the Maintenance app and click Organisation units > Organisation unit level.

    The loading time of the list depends on the depth of the organisation unit hierarchy tree.

  2. For the organisation unit levels you want to modify, type a name.

  3. Select the number of offline levels.

    [Note]Note

    You set the default value in the Settings app:

    Click Apps > Settings > General and select an item in the Max offline organisation unit levels list.

  4. Click Save.

10.5.13. Move organisation units within a hierarchy

You can move organisation units within in the hierarchy by changing the parent of a selected organisation unit.

  1. Open the Maintenance app and click Organisation units > Hierarchy operations.

  2. In the left-hand hierarchy tree, select the organisation unit(s) you want to move.

    [Note]Note

    If the selected organisation unit is has sub-organisation units, all of them move to the new parent organisation unit.

  3. In the right-hand hierarchy tree, select which organisation unit you want to move the selected organisation unit(s) to.

  4. Click Move x organisation units, where x stands for the number of organisation units you have selected.

    Your changes are immediately reflected in the left-hand side hierarchy tree.