Kenya's 6th Census Done Amid Some Resistance

An enumerator collects details of a household during the census exercise in Nyalenda slums, Kisumu on August 24, 2019.

The weeklong national population and households census in Kenya exposed bottled-up anger among citizens with the government, with the authorities dealing with many cases involving census officials.

There were reported cases of a rape and assault on enumerators. The resistance saw nearly 100 people arrested across the country for either attacking on obstructing the census personnel from undertaking their duties.

The survey, carried out by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, was held between August 24 and 31.

A businesswoman in central sent enumerators scampering accusing them "conducting this government process in my compound despite being heavily taxed by the government."

Another one in the Coast region splashed water on an enumerator for asking her husband "funny" questions while three men were arrested in Kisumu for being hostile to the team.

This is Kenya's sixth census since Independence, but the first paperless count. Over 165,000 tablets were used in the process involving 138,572 enumerators, 22,268 content supervisors and 2,467 ICT supervisors.

President Uhuru Kenyatta's Jubilee administration has struggled to fulfil its promises it made to the citizens as an economic downturn continues to bite, but what has angered the people most is runaway corruption and the apparent push for questionable projects at ridiculous cost.

"Kenyans feel suffocated. They have been promised many things that are yet to be fulfilled," said Prof Nyaga Kindiki, a lecturer at Moi University.

Prior to the headcount, the government spent $60 million on the National Integrated Identity Management System, called Huduma Namba, to establish a master population register that will be the only single source of identity for any person in Kenya. Some 38 million Kenyans were registered.

Three months later, another $178 million funded the national census. Of note, Ethiopia, which is more populous and expansive, plans to use just $129 million to conduct its 2020 census.

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