The Upcoming Census: An Important Deciding Factor of The North’s Future

The Upcoming Census: An Important Deciding Factor of The North’s Future

By Ali Edin,

The National Population and Housing Census is the official enumeration by the Government to establish the number of people and living quarters in a Country at a given time. In Kenya, the census is carried out every ten years to help the Government adequately plan for development. The United Nations defines population census as the total process of collecting, compiling, and publishing demographic, economic, and social data pertaining to a specific time to all persons in a country. As part of the census count, countries also include a compilation of information pertaining to living quarters and building-related facilities such as sewage systems, bathrooms, electricity et cetera. These data is crucial in determining the poverty index within the Country and gauges equal distribution of resources.  

Census Data and Delimitation of Electoral Unit

Article 89 of the Constitution clearly stipulates the process used to determine the number of constituencies and much of that is dependent on accurate data from the National Population and Housing Census.  Article 89 (1) states, “The IEBS shall review names and boundaries of constituencies at intervals of not less than eight years, and not more than twelve years, but a review shall be completed at least twelve months before a general election of members of parliament”. Sub-Section 5 of the same article outlines the procedure used to arrive at the number of constituencies; the inhabitants of a constituency should be as nearly as possible equal to the population quota. The number of inhabitants of a constituency may be greater or lesser than the population quota by considering; the geographical features and urban centers, community interest, historical, economic and cultural ties, as well as means of communication. The number of inhabitants of a constituency or ward may be greater or less than the population quota by a margin of not more than;
  1. 40% for cities and sparsely populated areas; and
  2. 30% for other areas.
The commission can alter the names and numbers of constituencies or wards if the number of inhabitants is not anywhere close to the population quota. Population quota is determined by dividing the total population by the total number of constituencies.

What is at Stake?

In 2010 the projected population quota was 133,138; not forgetting that was 10 years ago and the population has grown since. The population of Isiolo South is 43,119, and Saku in Marsabit is 46,503, way below the limit set by IEBC and if no significant change occurs then Isiolo and Marsabit Counties are set to lose 3 Constituencies. If you remember the narrative Moses Kuria was passionately preaching about lack of numbers in Northern Kenya, you will then understand why it is critical that we ensure by all means we have the right numbers. Allocation of funds including CDF is dependent on the census data as that will clearly show the poverty index amongst a specific population. Equalization funds and even the share of revenue to Counties are determined by the population number as that is a critical factor used by the Commission on Revenue Allocation. As per the pilot mapping exercise done last year, I am positive that we will have the numbers to prove wrong those people who think we only have trees and livestock in the North.
The Census exercise this year needs to be taken seriously and every single individual from the North needs to ensure they are counted and recorded as Northerners irrespective of where they are in this Country. Our numbers have surely tripled if not quadrupled in the last ten years and we have to ensure the data collected reflects the same.