Over 100,000 Kenyans living in disputed Lake Victoria islands to miss census

The government has said it will only ferry enumerators to Osieko island, but not other islands which leaders say are inhabited by Kenyans. [Courtesy]
Over 100,000 Kenyans living in the disputed Lake Victoria islands are set to miss out on the census due to the unresolved boundary dispute between Keny and Uganda, Budalang’i leaders have said.

The leaders led by Bunyala South MCA Casper Ajuma said the protracted dispute will see residents of Sigulu, Makera, Lelwe, Sagiti, Hama and Ayasi islands will not be counted yet they vote, seek medical  services and go to school in Budalang’i.

The leaders said failure to count people in the said islands will give an inacurate figure of the Budalang’i population.

“These people benefit immensely from services in Kenya and vote in Budalang’i. The government should have made arrangements to count them," said Mr Ajuma.

"The Government should have ferried people from the islands and bring them to Kenyan soil for the exercise," he added.

Budalang’i is one of the constituencies at risk of being merged with Funyula due to the low population. The low population has largely been linked to rampant flooding in the area, which has forced some locals to relocate to far areas.

The leaders were reacting to a statement by the Kenya Population Housing and Census (KPHC) Coordinator,  Busia County Kizito Wangalwa on Thursday that only those who live within Kenyan boundary will be counted.

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“People who stay in islands within Kenya will be counted and we have maps that will guide us during the census exercise,” said Mr Wangalwa.

He said boats are available to facilitate the movement of enumerators to some islands, particularly in Osieko.

Meanwhile, Busia County Commissioner Jacob Narengo has warned foreigners against taking part in the census, saying it is purely a Kenyan affair.

He said police have already been deployed to man the borders and prevent any attempt to ferry aliens into the county.

Narengo who is also chairs the county security committee, said village elders have been instructed to ensure that those who will be counted are strictly Kenyans.

“We have instructed village elders to ensure it is strictly Kenyans who will be counted. It will help the government plan for her people properly,” said Narengo.

Busia is a border county and there exist sub-tribes both in Kenya and Uganda particularly the Samia and Teso. The Samia are predominantly in Funyula constituency while Teso are largely in Teso South and Teso North in Kenya.

In Uganda, the Samia are mainly in Busia, Bujiri and Namaingo districts while Teso are majorly in six districts in Uganda including Tororo, Soroti, Kumi, Bukedeya, Pallisa and Butebo.

Some Ugandans and Kenyans own identification cards of both countries.

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Lake Victoria islandsBunyala SouthBudalang’iCensus