IEBC boundaries review process gets Sh7.2 billion shot in the arm

According to the Constitution, IEBC is required to conduct a demarcation of boundaries every eight to 12 years and not later than 12 years.

The review is necessitated by the periodic population growth and is aimed at ensuring there is equitable distribution of resources ranging from constituency development funds to government facilities.

Now that the electoral agency has been given the green light from Parliament, it will commence the next phase of the boundaries review expected to be concluded in 2024 premised on the 2019 census that placed the population at 47.5 million.

IEBC is, however, faced with the arduous task of striking a balance between population and size in review boundaries..

Disquiet has already rocked the Mt Kenya region where some leaders have expressed displeasure with 'under representation' and are calling for the creation of new constituencies and wards.

They also want retention of 27 constituencies already in existence but shrouded in controversy for having not met specific population quotas. According to law, the population of a constituency must be higher or lower than its quota by 40 per cent for cities and sparsely populated areas, and 30 per cent for other areas.

During the last review, a constituency was defined by a population quota of 132,138.

Leaders have in the recent past argued that despite the region being densely populated, they are still discriminated in terms of resource allocation. To cure this, they are advocating for the one-man-one shilling resource sharing formula.

For instance, Nyeri Senator Wahome Wamatinga is pushing for the retention of three constituencies in the county namely Kieni, Tetu and Mukurwe-ini but simultaneously seeking to have Kieni split.

Interestingly, the electoral agency, whose allocation of the current Sh7 billion for the review is higher than the Sh4.5 billion allocated for elections, is required to take account of geographical features and urban centres, community of interest, historical, economic and cultural ties and means of communication of a region.

Under its mandate, IEBC has the power to merge constituencies or propose new ones as well increase the number of wards from the current 1,450.

During the push for constitutional amendment under the Building Bridges (BBI) Initiative, the boundaries review issue came up and leaders from populous regions were advocating for the introduction of a system that would ensure the creation of more constituencies.

They had called for the creation of an additional 70 new constituencies out of which Rift Valley was to get 23, Nairobi 12, Central Kenya 11 and Coast 10.

Recent reports however indicate that about 30 constituencies mostly from the Northern Kenya and Coast may fail to meet the population quota- a situation which could necessitate mergers.