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Census: Here are the numbers

By | 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.

Oparanya announced the cancellation of census figures for eight districts in Mandera and Turkana, citing data inconsistencies. He said the rate of population growth is higher than the population dynamics like birth and death rates would support, and not consistent with figures from neighbouring regions.

The districts whose results were nullified are Lagdera, Wajir East, Mandera Central, Mandera East, Mandera West, Turkana Central, Turkana North, and Turkana South. Oparanya said a repeat exercise would be conducted soon. But he added the results would not have "any material difference on the national figures" except in the affected districts.

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The minister released data on ethnic affiliation considered ‘too sensitive’ in certain quarters, but which authorities said is essential in policy making.

According to the 2009 Census, the Kikuyu still top, as the largest community with a population of 6.6m, Luhya (5.3m), Kalenjin (4.9m), Luo (four million), and Kamba three million.

The figures show the number of Kenyan-Somalis – as opposed to members of the foreign Somalis – is 2.3 million, and that of Turkana nearly one million. But the Government has ordered a repeat of the count.

Political arithmetic

The other ethnic-based figures are: Kisii (two million), Mijikenda (1.9m), Meru (1.6m), Maasai (841, 622) and Teso (338, 833)

Officials defended collection and release of data detailing the population size of each of the listed 24 tribes, saying its use was much more than political arithmetic.

"The collection of this data is in line with international standards," said Anthony Kilele, the Director General of the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

Nairobi East is the most populous district with a population of 1.1 million. Embakasi, which has the highest number of registered voters, is also the most populated constituency with 925, 775 people. Siaya is the most populous rural district, with a population of 550, 224.

The least populated district is Laikipia North with a population of 32, 762, with Lamu East the least populated constituency with 18, 841.

Rift Valley is the most populous province with 10 million residents, followed by Eastern (5.6m), and Nyanza 5.4m. Central is fourth with a population of 4.38m, Western at 4.33m fifth, and Coast sixth with a population of 3.3m.

Nairobi and North Eastern have the least population with 3.1m and 2.3m people. The establishment of counties has, however, abolished provinces as homogenous administrative units.

Poor sanitation and lack of access to clean water continue to affect majority of Kenyans.

Less than 50 per cent of households in seven provinces do not have access to piped water. Only in Nairobi is piped water accessible to 75 per cent of households compared to seven per cent in Western.

Of the 1.2 million households covered during the census, main sewer services only 7.7 per cent. Except in Nairobi, where 47.7 per cent of households are connected to the main sewer, majority of Kenyans use pit latrines for waste disposal.

Radio is the most efficient mode of communication, with six million households having access to it while two million households have access to TV and five million mobile phones. There are 1.3 million disabled Kenyans accounting to 3.5 per cent of the total population.

Authorities termed criticism that census results, which had taken one year to release, were delayed as unfair, citing processing of comprehensive data.


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