Monday, August 24, 2009

National Census Day

Photo: One of Nairobi's many slums. Will the census count or just estimate?

Kenya's National Census starts today. The country's population is expected to have risen to around 40 million, perhaps even higher. It will be interesting to see which areas have grown, which have shrunk, how quickly people are moving to cities, exactly how many children and adults there really are in the country and many other things.

However, the census is not expected to be completely straightforward. I have heard that in some areas, the census staff were have not been paid and say they will not work until they get paid. In other areas, people are refusing to be counted as a protest about various conditions. Some pastoralists refuse to count women and children because there is a taboo against doing so.

In the last census, there were various problems, especially in the more remote parts of the country, where there was already very little population data available. By now, estimates must be mere stabs in the dark.

But I suspect there are many figures the government don't really want to know. How many people live in slums, especially in cities like Nairobi and Mombasa? The government doesn't even want to admit that so many people live in such terrible habitations and they say they are illegal anyway. How many are still in camps for internally displaced people? The press has had little to say about the real numbers of people who are still living in tents, after the post election violence more than one and a half years ago.

Many will be looking forward to seeing the figures, despite the difficulties that may arise in collecting them. So it is to be hoped that the results will be made available as soon as possible and made accessible to all the people and institutions that need them. Sphere: Related Content

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