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Leaders claim population census figures skewed

By Standard Team | Nov 5th 2019 | 4 min read
President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses the nation during the release of the 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census results at State House, Nairobi.

Leaders yesterday expressed mixed reactions to the 2019 Kenya Population and Housing census results released in Nairobi.

While politicians whose counties the census indicated population numbers had soared since the 2009 count termed the exercise fair, those in least populous counties complained.

Murang'a Senator Irungu Kang'ata said the census report had portrayed the county negatively both economically and politically.

"We shall get lower allocation of county funds because the population factor is vital in resource allocation. Some constituencies now risk being dissolved," said Mr Kang'ata.

In Mandera County, leaders bemoaned the decrease in population from 1.02 million people in 2009 to 867,457 in 2019.

"We as leaders and people of Mandera do not take these figures as a true reflection of the population of Mandera," said Hassan Abey, the chairman of Economic Freedom Party.

At  the Coast, leaders expressed shock over the low population some counties registered.

Lamu Woman Rep Ruweida Obbo was one of those who disputed the figures. She feared the results could be used to deny the county its rightful share of national funds.

Lamu East and Lamu West are the least populated constituencies nationally with a total of 143,920 people.

Meet threshold

In Mombasa County, Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir expressed satisfaction after all the six constituencies registered a total of 1,208,333 people -  meeting the threshold set by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

"I am currently analysing the population census report but at least we are pleased that our constituencies meet the threshold set by IEBC," Mr Nassir said.

Among coastal counties, Kilifi had the highest population with 1,443,787 people. Tana River had 315,943 people while Kwale had 866,820.

In Nyanza, National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi said the population growth recorded in Homa Bay was reasonable.

"The population growth recorded in 2019 in Homa Bay County is reasonable compared to what was recorded in 2009," Mr Mbadi said.

In the 2019 census, Homa Bay has registered 1.3 million people. In 2009, the region had 963,794 people.

A section of Gusii leaders, however, dismissed the results. In the 2009 census, Kisii had a population of 1,152,282 people while Nyamira had 598,252. In yesterday's results, Kisii has 1,266,860 people and Nyamira 605,576.

Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri said the community expected a figure of not less than 3.5 million people.

"Those in charge at KNBS must rework those figures. Census is all about getting the right population dynamics," said Prof Ongeri.

The senator explained that a typical family size in Kisii and Nyamira ranges between five to seven people, which is among the highest in the country.

"Definitely this is going to affect our share of resource allocation. I have always participated in policy formulation and I can authoritatively say these are not the right figures for the two counties," Ongeri said.

South Mugirango MP Sylvanus Osoro said the figures released don't  reflect "the true picture on the ground".

"Kisii has turned to be a rural slum, thanks to our numbers. I know Kisii has not less than 2.5 million people. Nyamira has not less than 1.2 million people. Somebody could be working hard to deny us resources," Mr Osoro said.

In Vihiga, Governor Wilberforce Ottichilo said of the census: "As a county, we are using the projection of 3.6 per cent annual population growth. I don't agree with the new census. This is one way of marginalising regions."

Mr Ottichilo said the current Vihiga population cannot be less than 670,000 people.

Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala said he would table a motion that will ensure counties receive equal resources despite what the census data says.

He said Kiambu could have recorded high numbers because it is an expansive cosmopolitan settlement.

"Many people, most of them who work in Nairobi, stay in Kiambu. On the other hand, I think Nakuru County has expanded drastically," said Mr Malala.

Skewed figures

Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa dismissed the figures released as skewed.

"I have always known that the Luhya community is the most populous. The Luhya numbers look suppressed. We doubt these results," Mr Wamalwa said.

Nominated Senator Naomi Shiyonga, on the other hand, agreed with the census results that placed Kakamega County at position four among the 47 counties in terms of population.

Ms Shiyonga thanked the locals for coming out in large numbers to be counted.

Malava MP Malulu Injendi and his Likuyani counterpart Enock Kibunguchy said they had reservations with the figures released.

"The figures do not reflect the reality on the ground. Ten years ago, we had slightly over 1.6 million people in Kakamega. It is not possible that the figure increased by only 200,000 people," said Mr Malulu.

Turkana West MP Daniel Epuyo said a majority of his constituents were not counted.

Mr Epuyo said he had told KNBS together with the Interior ministry to employ more enumerators in the vast constituency.

More enumerators

"I had raised the issue with the Turkana County Commissioner that more enumerators were needed to count the many pastoralists who were migrating to different areas, but no action was taken," Mr Eupyo said. His constituency recorded 239,000 people.

Elgeyo Marakwet Deputy Governor Wisley Rotich blamed rural-urban migration for the low population in Keiyo North and Marakwet East.

"We don't want the constituencies to be scrapped. We want more allocations," Mr Rotich said.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei told the Commission on Revenue Allocation to use the 2019 population numbers to allocate resources.

"The new population figures should be used to allocate resource. We should stop using 2009 figures in resource allocation," Mr Cherargei said.

The senator said the population figures will increase Rift Valley region's bargaining power ahead of 2022 General Election.

With Nakuru ranked the third most populous county, Governor Lee Kinyanjui said this places the county strategically for investment.

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