Ahead of the upcoming National Population and Housing Census, Kenya’s government has introduced strict penalties for defaulters. Last month, President Uhuru Kenyatta signed into law the Statistics (Amendment) Bill and the Accreditation Service Bill, which state penalties to enhance the authenticity of data collected and public compliance with the census.

Citizens who boycott or give enumerators false information in the exercise will reportedly be fined an amount not exceeding SH100,000 or will be sentenced to jail for a period not exceeding one year or both.

Basically, the Statistics Act is aimed at improving the management of information at national and county levels by ensuring data collection and processing is conducted in accordance with international best practices and standards.

The law also gives enumerators who will be escorted by security agents power to access any premises for the purpose of census duties. However, citizens have the option of stating whether they are Kenyans if they do not want to reveal their ethnicity.

The census is expected to start on the night of 24/25th August 2019 and continue till 31st August. This will be the country’s eighth census since 1948 and the sixth since its independence in 1963

Moreover, this year’s census will the first one to be carried out using digital gadgets, a paperless process that seeks to ensure accuracy, speed of processing and security of data. It will focus on eight key areas including population characteristics, disability, education, labour force, Information and Communications Technology (ICT), livestock, agriculture, housing conditions and amenities.

Some of the sensitive questions respondents are likely to be asked include stillbirths and causes of death in the household, the identity of children and their biological parents, property ownership, number of wives, those living with disabilities, amount of money remitted by emigrants to households and history of albinism in the family if any.

Furthermore, for the first time in an African country, the Kenyan government will also collect data on intersex people during the exercise. Thus the survey will determine the number of citizens who do not identify as either male or female. According to the BBC, this is a major victory for rights activists. Intersex people in Kenya often face violence and discrimination. With a general population of about 49 million, they are thought to be more than 700,000 in the country.

The exercise will involve 138,572 enumerators, 22,268 content supervisors and 2,467 ICT supervisors. People found in their houses, those in transit, individuals in hotels and lodges and institutions such as hospitals and prisons will be counted on the Census Reference Night (August 24/25).

People will be counted with reference to where they spend the night of August 24/25. However, those who miss this on the first night will still be counted as it runs till August 31st. Also, for those who due to some unforeseen circumstances are not counted till after the end of the exercise, a toll-free number will be provided to contact Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) and an enumerator will be sent to the household.

According to the KNBS, the census results will provide information that is essential for evidence-based development planning, making administrative and policy decisions and research. The population data gathered is shared among key government ministries and departments to guide in resource allocation and wealth distribution.

The initial census report is expected after three months, while the detailed analytical reports will be released within a year. The census is expected to cost the taxpayer Sh18.5 billion.

By Tobiloba Ishola.


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