Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) is making a last minute rush to persuade Kenyans to participate in the national census amid apathy and insecurity fears.
With only two days to the headcount, KNBS Director General Zachary Mwangi said whereas it’s all systems go, they will need to convince Kenyans to participate in the all-important exercise.
And to push as many people to participate in the count, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i has directed all bars to be closed on the night of the census, August 24, 2019.
It is not yet clear whether the directive will be extended to other sectors such as churches and transport industry.
“We will use all possible platforms to explain to Kenyans why we need to get accurate information. We will also assure them of their security,” said Mr Mwangi Wednesday.
“We are calling upon Kenyans to support this exercise. Census is important because it’s the basis of a statistical system. We need data so we can know as a country where we are and where we are going,” he added.
Kenyans had taken to social media expressing fears that thugs could take advantage of the exercise to gain access to homes, and wondered how they will uniquely identify the enumerators.
But the director allayed insecurity fears, saying the uniformed forces are on high alert to protect all citizens and that census personnel will be identifiable through branded attires and tags.
“Everything is now set. The count will be done from 6:30pm on Saturday and will run all the way up to August 31. We are in talks with arms of the government to ensure that social places are closed during the process,” said the statistics boss.
They have also recruited members of residence associations and village elders, who are known to accompany the census team, so that Kenyans are confident to allow them into their homes.
While giving an update of the preparations, he said the training of all the 163,307 census personnel is complete.
They assembled Wednesday at the local sub-chiefs’ offices for final logistical arrangements to ensure that they have all the materials. Today, they are expected to familiarise themselves with their areas of jurisdiction.
One enumerator will be dealing with about 100 households in the electronic enumeration process, according to Mr Mwangi.
He said they are working very closely with counties to ensure that the first ever census since the promulgation of the new Constitution that operationalised devolution is successful.
Meanwhile, the Council of Governors (CoG) has asked the government to deploy adequate resources to ensure the census is conducted without any hitches.
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, the CoG chair, said measures should be put in place to deal with suspected cases of collusion by enumerators to manipulate the exercise.
Speaking in Kakamega town, he said the census is a critical exercise that will determine how much resources will be allocated to regions, and any attempt to manipulate it amounts to fraud.
Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi also urged the bureau to ensure the census is credible and devoid of fictitious figures as was the case with the 2009 census in Northern Kenya.
He made the remarks as politicians from western region intensified calls urging residents to travel to their rural homes in preparation for the exercise.
“The 2009 census had anomalies due to reported manipulation of figures. We do not want a repeat of this when the census kicks off on Saturday,” Mr Mudavadi said while urging Kenyans to take the exercise seriously.
He called on the Interior Ministry to beef up security in all parts of the country for enumerators and other officials to enable the exercise to be conducted without hitches.
And in Homa Bay, the exercise can now take place after a court granted the KNBS permission to use public servants as content supervisors and enumerators in the county.
KNBS secured a stay order against a court ruling that sought to terminate the recruitment of public servants in Rachuonyo North.
The Employment and Labour Relations Court in Nairobi last Thursday ordered KNBS to remove names of public servants, who had been recruited as supervisors and enumerators, after five residents filed a case challenging the recruitment exercise.
Mr Michael Kojo, Mr Evance Oloo, Mr John Kisiara, Mr Antony Tindi and Mr Daniel Onyango alleged anomalies in the recruitment, claiming it was done without following the right procedures.
However, KNBS moved to the Employment and Labour Relations Court in Mombasa on Tuesday this week and secured a stay order.
“Due to the greater public interest, implementation of the orders issued on August 15 is hereby stayed,” read the court document.
The court said the matter was urgent and should be heard during the court vacation.
In Mandera, it is a race against time as political and community leaders seek to prove that the predominant Somali community has been growing exponentially.
Ten years after the last census results from the county’s three districts were disputed, it will be interesting to find out the latest numbers in Mandera, given that such statistics still matter in local politics, where voting patterns are broadly predictable along ethnic and clan lines.
The government initially nullified the 2009 results in Mandera East, Mandera Central and Mandera West districts. Wajir East, Lagdera in Garissa, Turkana North, Turkana South and Turkana Central in Turkana County were also affected.
The High Court later upheld the results. But beyond the politics of identity, the population aspect is critical for legislative boundaries, which makes it a hot potato for politicians.
What follows the census is a new boundary review by IEBC, which will be heavily influenced by the population figures.
By Anita Chepkoech, Benson Amadala, Manase Otsialo, George Odiwuor, Shaban Makokha and Derick Luvega