President Mwai Kibaki Monday evening kicked off the 2009 Kenya Population and Housing Census.
The President started off the exercise that was led by Planning, National Development and Vision 2030 Minister Wycliffe Oparanya and Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Director-General Anthony Kilele at 6.05 p.m.
President Kibaki said he was delighted to participate in the exercise and appealed to Kenyans to give it maximum support because the census is vital for planning and development of the country.
The exercise will continue up to 10 pm Monday night and resume Tuesday between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Thereafter, counting will take place daily up to August 31st between 6.00 a.m. and 10.00 p.m. to ensure every Kenyan is counted.
Kenya's last census was conducted in 1999, recording a population of 28.7 million. The population this year is projected to approach 40 million.
Tuesday, August 25, has been declared a public holiday by President Kibaki to enable the census officials to net more people.
In a press conference earlier on Monday, the Planning minister said all measures had been put in place to ensure success of the counting which will end on August 31 and whose preliminary results would be released in December.
“The country is ready for this important exercise. Maps have been prepared, officials recruited and trained all materials delivered to the districts,” he said.
He put the country’s projected population at 39.6 million.
Mr Oparanya said the enumerators would wear red-branded T-shirts, supervisors (blue) and senior supervisors (green).
The officials will further have identification badges and black bag with census logo.
In rural areas the officials will be accompanied by village elders while in urban areas residents' associations are to assist in the exercise.
Arrangements have been put in place to ensure internally displaced persons, pastoralists and people living in Migingo Island are also counted, Mr Oparanya said.
Senior supervisors will pocket Sh2500 per day for 30 days work, supervisors (Sh2000 per day for 23 days) and enumerators Sh1500 daily for 16 days, the minister said.
Chiefs and their assistants, village elders and security personnel involved in the exercise will also earn some allowances.
Mr Oparanya said the census is per the Statistics Act and that it is crucial for national planning and Vision 2030.
“Some people say it could be used for politically but that will be unfortunate situation,” he said.
The United Nations further requires people to state their tribe during census, he explained.
Prof Saitoti announced that Provincial Commissioners, District Commissioners, District Officers and chiefs have been directed to close all bars and other entertainment places from 6 pm today to 10 pm for census.
He also requested the premises owners to let them remain closed today.
“Let us take a break from drinking. All Kenyans should cooperate,” he said.
Police had further been instructed to arrest any person who tries to prevent people from being counted, interferes with the exercise or impersonates census officials, the minister said.
He said the commissioner of police had developed a detailed plan to ensure security during counting and urged the public to ignore threats by the outlawed Mungiki sect and other criminal gangs.
“Security will be on high alert and criminals who try to interfere will be met by rude shock,” he said.