Has census really succeeded?

The government has expressed satisfaction with the conduct of this year’s census but many households remain uncounted a week after the census began.


Kenyan National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) Director, Anthony Kilele, has said that most households were counted by Saturday the 29th of August. The census began on Monday the 24th and is due to officially end on the 31st.

However, by Saturday, many households in Nairobi were yet to see a census officer. Other city residents have found their doors with census markings yet they were not counted, leading to credible fears that census officials may be cooking up statistics.

Fears of faking census data were first raised by COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli in the middle of the week. Three days after the census began, Atwoli reported that majority of people had not been counted and that it would be impossible to clear the backlog within the allocated time. Kilele has since dismissed the fears saying that there will be no extension after the August 31st deadline.

Fears of manipulating census results have all to do with the perversive ethnic characteristics of Kenya’s politics. The bigger an ethnic group, the greater the influence of politicians from that ethnic group. With the government allocating development funds at constituency level, politicians would prefer a higher population in order to demand a greater share of the development budget.

The ongoing review of constituency boundaries by the Andrew Ligale Commission will place intensified scrutiny on the census results. Parts of Kenya with higher population densities will demand more constituencies, districts and even provinces. Just like the 2007 elections, the census has become an ethnic do-or-die affair.

Corruption has marred the exercise, right from the recruitment and training of census staff. It is said that majority of those recruited for the census are either connected to powerful personalities or paid bribes to get the jobs. In most rural constituencies, unemployed youths protested after census jobs were given to school teachers. The youth were left wondering why civil servants were competing for temporary jobs with the unemployed who, in some cases, were their own children!