Why Kenyan leaders are keen on this year’s census

Saturday August 24 2019

Census preparations

Enumerators study a map outside Whisper’s park in Nyeri town, Kenya as they prepare for census. Census kicks off on the night of August 24. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

More by this Author

Kenya is carrying out a week-long population and housing census, its sixth since Independence.

And if the United Nation’s projections that Kenya’s population will grow by more than a million per year are confirmed in the exercise being conducted by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, this would translate into about 50 million people, from 38.6 million people in the 2009 census.

KNBS has said that the results will be released by December while the detailed analytical reports will be out within a year.

Unlike the past five head counts, this year’s census has gained sustained interest from local leaders, because the Constitution passed in 2010 requires that the 47 county governments receive their revenues based on the size of their populations.

The stakes are also raised by the controversy over the last census statistics in which the numbers from northern Kenya were allegedly inflated, leading to what is seen as the minority getting what they “do not deserve” in terms of electoral boundaries and revenue allocations.

Another unique aspect of this headcount, other than being paperless, is that data on intersex people will be collected, making Kenya the first African state to add a third gender in its national population census.


KNBS chief executive Zachary Mwangi has assured the country that the technology deployed to collect the data is foolproof and safe.

“The use of technology is what the UN has recommended so that data gathering goes together with the requirements established by the Sustainable Development Goals and accompanying targets,” Mr Mwangi said.

Also at the centre of the mobilisation is the 2022 General Election, with fears that low numbers may lead to some constituencies being scrapped or merged for failing to meet the required threshold of an average of 133,138 people.

Politicians have heightened campaigns to mobilise residents to go back to their villages to be counted to save their constituencies.