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Seal loose ends to give Kenyans a valid count

Tuesday August 27 2019

EDITORIAL
By EDITORIAL
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The conduct of the Population and Housing Census that started on Saturday has left a lot to be desired.

Although the government made a solemn pledge to conduct an efficient and smooth people count, the exercise has been sloppy.

Many people had not been counted at the end of the third day. We recognise the exercise runs till August 31, but the thrust was that most households should have been reached during the key days, Saturday and Sunday, when people stayed at home waiting for the enumerators.

During the week, families go out for their daily business and would not have the time and the patience to wait for the enumerators, not when the schedules are not known.

As we argued before, the preparations for the whole exercise were poor. There were so many loose ends.

Communication was scant and the public was left for a while speculating how the activity would be undertaken.

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CHALLENGES

Where they have covered and with some exceptions, the enumerators do not seem organised and scarcely demonstrate confidence in what they are doing, raising questions about the outputs.

Other extraneous challenges have been reported, mainly insecurity like in Baringo where a person was shot dead by a gang on Sunday as he walked to a primary school where counting was taking place.

By dint of topography and the transient lifestyle of pastoralists, counting in such areas is organised in public places like schools to reach many people.

But that is fraught with security threats given those are bandit-prone zones. Indeed, such was anticipated and the authorities should deal appropriately.

The significance of the census in planning and national development is well established.

ILL MOTIVES

It should be foolproof so that the results obtained provide a true reflection of the status of the population.

Risks abound of the census being manipulated to serve selfish and parochial interests. In particular, politicians view the count in terms of voters.

They would want to see high numbers in their regions or strongholds, which they can use to bargain and cut deals.

Not surprising, many of them have been pushing for urban dwellers to travel to the rural homes to be counted there ostensibly to shore up numbers for them.

In all these, we seek to have a decent and valid count. We do not want a repeat of what happened in 2009, when the results were contested because they were inflated in some regions.

CREDIBILITY

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics and relevant authorities must up the game. Counting should be expedited to avoid lethargy.

Security has to be intensified and public communication enhanced.

Ultimately, the processing and final tabulation have to be done professionally to yield valid and dependable figures that can guide proper national development.

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