Connect with us

General News

Legal, logistic hurdles likely to affect 2019 census



More by this Author

Politics and turf wars between State departments, coupled with outdated laws have cast doubt whether the 2019 national population census will be held according to schedule.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Act (2006) is yet to be aligned with the Kenya Constitution 2010, while technical preparations, the procurement of digital equipment and training of personnel for the exercise scheduled for next August are yet to begin.

Next year’s census is billed as the biggest in the country’s history in terms of budget and staff. It is expected to cost Sh18.5 billion and employ over 200,000 personnel.

Staff allowances and the acquisition of 165,000 mobile telephones to be installed with special data capture and transmission software to replace the traditional paper questionnaires are expected to consume the bulk of the money.

The census is expected to exorcise the demons of the 1999 and 2009 disputed results, which have been used for planning and resource-allocation policies, a perennial source of political disputes over perceived lopsidedness.

The first ever digital census using tablets that transmit data to a central database as they are captured in the field on census night will eliminate human data entry, suspected to have been responsible for errors during information entry from questionnaires into computers.

Political skulduggery in Parliament and the Judiciary have stalled efforts to update the KNBS Act (2006) since 2010, making it difficult to resolve disputes over the allocation of billions of shillings of devolved funds every year since 2013.

Turf wars between the State departments of Interior and the National Treasury over who controls the Sh18.5 billion census budget has stalled the procurement of 165,000 smart phones, software and the recruitment and training of personnel.

The last census, held in August 2009, cost Sh8.5 billion, while the results for one held in 1999 were never officially released.

Some Sh8 billion of the Sh18.5 billion had been earmarked for personnel recruitment, training and allowances, and some Sh3 billion for smartphones fitted with special software.

“The timelines to meet the August deadline are as good as burst, unless some contingent revised timelines are worked out. Initial planning had factored some six months for tendering and supply of smart phones, testing and training of users, which is yet to happen.

“The minimum timelines for advertisement for supply tenders for various items and services, evaluation, awards, dispute resolutions, actual procurement and deployment had been estimated to take about 15 months. We are out of time,” a source said.

The 2009 census had 6,000 senior supervisors, 22,000 supervisors, 115,000 enumerators, 100,000 village elders, and 45,000 security personnel.

The source said even if the government were to resort to single or direct sourcing to bypass the tedious Public Procurement and Assets Disposal Act in order to meet deadlines, the ongoing anti-corruption purge revolving around flouting of procurement laws would make the civil servants involved hesitant.

“Single sourcing has become a no-go zone for many actors in public procurement. It is extremely unpopular in the current environment of anti-corruption crackdown,” the source said.

KNBS Director-General Zachary Mwangi, however, assured that his department is determined to complete procurement by May next year and recruitment and training by July, for “the most accurate and quality population census”.

“There is no cause for alarm. People should worry only if we do not have the equipment ready by May,” he said, adding that the cartographic mapping of villages in all the 47 counties had been done.

But he conceded that the process of aligning the KNBS Act (2006) with the 2010 Constitution, which began in 2012, is long overdue, although he is confident that Parliament will expedite it when the House resumes business after the Christmas break.