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Census: Here are the numbers

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Updated Wed, September 1st 2010 at 00:00 GMT +3

By Alex Ndegwa

The 2009 census shows Kenya’s population has trebled since Independence, but contrary to earlier speculations it is still 1.4 million shy of the 40 million-mark.

The delayed results also show the Luo community, which until 1979 census was second, before being overtaken by the Luhya in 1999 census, is now the fourth largest – after being surpassed by the Kalenjin in the latest count. The outcome, presented by Planning Minister Wycliffe Oparanya at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre yesterday, showed the gap between men and women now stands at 225,000 — contrary to popular opinion the margin is wider. Men stood at 19,192,458 while women were 19,417,639.

Planning Minister Wycliffe Oparanya faces the barrage of cameras after releasing 2009 census results.

This is a ratio of nearly 1:1 – dispelling the belief women outnumber men by a big margin, and hence the myth men are spoilt for choice in the dating game.

Given that the study showed Kenya grows by an average of one million people annually, and taking that all factors have remained constant, it can safely be assumed Kenya’s population could be a million bigger than it was in the final week of August 2009, when the census took place.

In 1979 census, the tally stood at 15.3m, and then rose to 21.4m ten years later, and finally climbed to 28.7m in 1999. The results of the 1999 census were, however, released five years later in 2001 when the demographic landscape must have changed.

Oparanya’s statistics also showed the country’s population has increased by 35 per cent over. The country’s birth rate is estimated at 39 births per 1,000, while life expectancy stands at 54 years. The growth rate places Kenya among low-income countries with the highest birth rates.

Because of the gigantic leap and uncontrolled growth, which could outpace food production and provision of vital services such as health and education, Oparanya, stressed the need to invest in family planning services.

Reliable data

Oparanya said the high rate of population growth has adverse effects on spending in infrastructure, health, education, environment, water, and other social and economic sectors. His warning came hot on the heels of the Friday proclamation of the new Constitution, which seeks to overhaul the national standard of living.

Accurate and reliable data arising from the census, conducted every 10 years, is critical in policy formulation and resource generation and distribution.

The latest data will be critical to the country now under a new Constitution, which radically alters governance by introducing a two-tier devolved Government with 47 county governments.

Nairobi County is the most populous with a population of 3.1 million, followed by Kakamega with 1.66 million, and Bungoma the third-most populous with 1.63 million.

Kiambu, Nakuru, Meru, Kisii, Kilifi and Machakos complete the list of nine counties whose population is more than one million.

Mandera is listed the tenth most populous county with a population of 1, 025, 756. But it is among eight districts whose census figures have been cancelled. This was due to inconsistencies in vital indicators such as birth and death rates, and gender distribution.

Lamu is the least populous county with a population of 101, 539, followed by Isiolo (143, 294), and Samburu (223, 947). Tana River, Taita Taveta, Marsabit, Tharaka, Elgeyo Marakwet, Laikipia, and Busia complete the list of the 10 least populated counties. Population size will guide the sharing of national resources among the counties. It will also determine the size of the cake Kenyans needs to bake and equitably share.

But irrespective of their population size, the 47 counties will each have a Senator, which shall exercise oversight over county governments, and hear impeachment proceedings against the President.

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