The government is struggling to beat its census deadline amid numerous hurdles.
Even after ordering the closure of bars last weekend, extending enumerators’ working hours and beefing up security, it may not be possible to count everyone by the time the exercise ends on Saturday.
Enumerators’ demand for allowances, insecurity and lethargy have contributed to slowing down the exercise.
It is the first time for Kenya to count its people using digital gadgets with over 165,000 tablets in use.
The survey — carried out by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) — involves 138,572 enumerators, 22,268 content supervisors and 2,467 ICT supervisors.
With Kenya’s population estimated at 48 million, it means that every enumerator will fill data for about 350 people.
The Huduma Namba registration exercise, which took place in May, registered about 38 million people.
This means that about 10 million people, or 20 per cent, did not get a Huduma number.
The government insists that all is going on well. “Figures just keep trickling in but we can’t unbundle them right now. It takes three months. Also, some areas may have been covered, but due to network issues, the information is yet to get to us but is stored in the gadgets until the enumerator finds the internet,” government spokesman Cyrus Oguna said.
On Tuesday, three chiefs based in northern Kenya, a policeman and an enumerator were arrested on suspicion of inflating the population.
Elsewhere, 35 people were arrested for obstructing enumerators’ work. Sixteen such cases have been filed in court.
“Regrettably, some of our personnel are not treated well, yet they are our sons and daughters doing a national service and earning an honest living. Please treat them with dignity,” Mr Oguna said.
Several cases of enumerators being chased away or attacked have been reported in Kisumu, Kiambu, Nairobi and Isiolo. Fights have also broken out over boundaries in some areas like Baringo where residents, afraid that their constituency might be merged with another because of their low numbers, have refused to be counted.
In Makueni some residents have declined to have their data taken because the enumerators come from the neighbouring Machakos county.
KNBS boss Zachary Mwangi said the matter is being addressed to ensure all Kenyans are counted.
“Administrative boundaries are determined by the Interior ministry. We only used the existing boundaries, which are clear from counties to the lowest level. People must be counted from where they are,” Mr Mwangi said.
Some people have complained online of being asked unnecessary time-wasting questions. However, KNBS maintains that the questions on the census are well-structured to maximise harvesting of information.
On average an enumerator spends at least half an hour on a small sized household. This means they can only visit 12 houses between the 6pm to 10pm timeline allocated by government for the exercise.
There have been reports of enumerators being overloaded with work. Mr Mwangi denied the claim.
“The allocations were based on an initial pilot and each enumerator was given what can realistically be achieved, which is not more than 20 households in a day or a total of 100 in the seven days,” said the KNBS boss.
An inter-ministerial committee led by Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho has ruled out extending the exercise beyond the August 31 deadline.