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Kenya’s 2019 Census Data Likely Underwhelming & Limited

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Kenya’s 2019 Census Data is underwhelming and limited for economic policy formulation according to population analysts and economists who spoke to TechMoran in confidentiality.

The exercise which officially kicked off Saturday, August 24 and is ongoing, will for the first time, be collected by tablet computers by officials employed by the Kenyan National Bureau of Statistics. The last population and household survey in Kenya was 10 years ago.

This year’s exercise is expected to run for seven days, from August 24 to the 31st of August 2019.

According to a number of Kenyans who have been enumerated already, the exercise is basic, underwhelming and disappointing as it leaves us much of the needed data for government planning and budgeting.

“The Census questions were so basic. They are asking my age, sex, marital status, births, deaths, migration, any form of difficulties, my educational levels and current employment status. Also, there is that bit on ethnicity or nationality, and my county of origin and whether I have Huduma Number or not,” said a Nairobi sociologist speaking to TechMoran on condition of anonymity.

Ownership heavily left out

“Instead I expected them to ask if I own more than the house I stay in, If I own more than the car I drive, if I have more TV and radio sets than those in the living room. If I have other homes apart from this. If I have other businesses or companies or employees or side jobs I do. The Census might get the numbers right and but ownership has been heavily left out.

Basic Census questions

For those who haven’t been asked, the Census questions include names of each person who spent the night of 24th/25th August, 2019 in this household, each person’s relationship to the head of the household, their sex, their age, their date of birth, if the parents are alive, if the person is a usual member of the household, their ethnicity or nationality, their religion, marital status, where they were born, where they were living in August 2018, if they ever moved out of the country after 2004, their current place of residence and if they ever sent money back home. And of course, if you have any disability.

DP Enumeration

If you are a woman older than 12 years, you will be asked how many children have you ever  borne alive, how many children have you borne  alive who usually live with you, how many children have you borne alive who usually live elsewhere, how many children have you borne alive who have died, when was your last child born, where did this last birth occur, what was the sex of this child/ children, was this last birth notified, is this last child/ children still alive and if the last child is not alive or when did the child die?

Some few questions on members livelihoods include if any of you did any crop farming where you stay if any of you did any aquaculture, if any of bought stuff online and if your work is in line with your profession. For people living in apartments and bungalows and maisonettes in the city, crop farming, livestock and aquaculture might not be their pastime activity but what if they have a second home or own ranches just miles away from their city house.

“This year’s Census is void of any economic data. It does not capture the reality of life of Kenyans and will not help the government to plan for anything. It might have all the demographic and social data but it’s so disappointing on economic data,” the sociologist added.

The 2019 Census is counting all the persons within the borders of Kenya. Whether at home, on transit, in hotels and lodges, and institutions such as hospitals, prisons and army barracks among others.

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The questions have been loaded on to tablet computer making the whole enumeration process paperless. Digitization ensures that the data will be more secure and that the census results will be available sooner than was previously possible.

Former PMs enumeration

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, “The census is the primary source of reliable and detailed data on the size, distribution and composition of the population in the country at a specified time. The information collected when analysed gives an accurate picture of how many people are living in the country, the distribution across every administrative level and their living conditions as well as access to basic services. This will inform planners on policy formulation and targeting of development plans.”

This information, however, might not be able to fully inform decision markers apart from helping on inclusivity based on ethnicity, provide insight into the changing in-migration patterns in Kenya and show the picture of the total number of people living in Kenya and probably, those depended on government welfare services.

“The government got it right on migration patterns and forms of disabilities and the inclusion of the intersex population,” a Nairobi-based population analyst told TechMoran. “However, information on access and ownership of ICT equipment and services, housing and property ownership, trading and business ownership, ownership of other assets is limited and might not be beneficial in its form.”


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