The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: 2009 Census Delayed Over Somali Numbers

Nairobi — Census results were postponed indefinitely over claims that data on the number of Somalis in the country had been doctored, the Star has learnt.

An impromptu Cabinet meeting, chaired by President Kibaki at Harambee House and also attended by Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Wednesday to get a briefing on the census decided to shelve the release of the census results after they indicated that the number of Somalis had risen by 140% over the last ten years.

The Cabinet was being taken through the report by Planning Minister Wycliffe Oparanya, before its scheduled launch on Thursday.

Some of those who attended said the meeting was alarmed when Oparanya explained that the huge rise in number was boosted by naturalised Somalis and not those who were citizens by birth. According to the 1989 census figures, the populationof Somalis in the country was 900,000. The yet to be released results indicated that their number had now risen to 2.3 million.

"It is the issue of this rapid increase in the population and the fact that the boost was mainly from the naturalised Somalis that were pointed out by some senior security intelligence officers who were at the meeting," a source who was at the same meeting said.

The meeting was doubly concerned that the population of Mandera, which borders Somalia, had exploded to 1.1 million from less than 400,000 in 1989.

"The Cabinet wondered why naturalized Somalis would be more than indigenous Somalis in the area and indicated that this was an anomaly," another source said.

A Cabinet minister who was present at the briefing told the Star the meeting was 'shocked' that the census results had been interfered and the extent to which this had happened.

"One of the senior security officials presented a very worrying picture.

He told us that nearly 100,000 enumeration forms were distributed to Muslim clerics and village elders in parts of North Eastern province and in Nairobi's Eastleigh area who then completed them and exaggerated the numbers," said the minister.

He said from the presentation it was clear that some officials at the National Bureau of Statistics Bureau and the Ministry of Planning had been involved in manipulating the census data.

"There were double agents both at the bureau and at the parent ministry(Planning) who were earning double salaries-the legitimate one from the government and the other from people who wanted them to fiddle with the figures. When we were told this, we all agreed that it was important to defer the release of the results indefinitely until they can be reviewed," said the minister The security officers present at the meeting informed the meeting that the double agents continue to 'earn' their double salaries.

The participants said it was impossible for the Somalis to record such a monumental growth considering the harsh conditions in the region, the lack of infrastructure and health services.

MARTERNAL-CHILD DEATHS IN NEP ARE THE HIGHEST IN THE COUNTRY AND LIFE EXPECTANCY IS CONSIDERED TO BE X BELOW THE NATIONAL AVERAGE OF YEARS FOR MEN AND Z FOR WOMEN "The Somalis infiltrated the Central Bureau of Statistics and interefered with the data to show their phenomenol growth in numbers," said another minister.

Oparanya was tongue-tied as the senior security officers gave a power point presentation to counter the findings of the census report.

" For the first time, the minister was hearing details of how the report was tampered with. He was as shocked as we were," said the minister.

Following Wednesday's Cabinet briefing, Oparanya announced that the release of the census results would be postponed indefinitely. In the meantime, the government directed the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics to undertake further processing of the census data and produce a comprehensive report that will include population distribution.

The new directive is expected to capture what Oparanya described as "various characteristics" which include migration, housing conditions, education, labour force apart from the age, sex, political and administrative units.

"This has been occasioned by in part by the fact that the government is currently implementing various important national activities which require more comprehensive information than that released in the provisional report," Oparanya said.

In November, The Star carried an exlusive story based on the provisional report of the population and housing census report which said the country's population had hit the 40 million mark. The census was conducted on August 24/25 last year.

The results indicated that the country had 39,423,264 persons compared to 28,686,607 registered during the last census in 1999. The provisional results indicated that Central province had the lowest population growth rate.

Nairobi is leading both in population growth rate and literacy levels while North Eastern is the poorest educated province. Nairobi is the most densely populated province with 4684.1 persons/sq Km while North Eastern is the most sparsely populated region at 10.9 persons/sq Km.

North Eastern was the least densely populated region in the country averaging 10.9 persons per square kilometer while its population growth rate was only 44.92 percent.

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