What is with the Government’s threats over the 2019 census?

Kenyans are being threatened with hefty fines and risk of jail terms if they either miss the 2019 census or provide false information to the enumerators. “You will be fined kshs 100,000“. “You will go to jail for one year” are the two threats the government is issuing every opportunity it gets. The expectation by the Government is that these threats would force everyone to participate in the 2019 Census schedule for this Saturday and Sunday, no matter the circumstances people may find themselves in that may make it impossible for them to participate in the census.

Similar threats were issued during the mass registration of Huduma Namba. With Huduma Namba, Kenyans were not only threatened with dire consequences including long jail times and/or hefty times. A County Commissioner actually went to threaten Kenyans that those without Huduma Namba would no longer be Kenyans. Despite these threats, only 36 million Kenyans registered for the Huduma Namba against the expected 47 million. The government has since gone ahead to arrange for a second mass registration of Huduma namba alongside preparing a Bill seeking to make Huduma Namba mandatory.

The failure to register every Kenyan on Huduma Namba was primarily because the Government failed to convince Kenyans on the significance of Huduma Namba. Reasons such as Huduma Namba being able to make service delivery efficient were not justified with practical examples that are logical and feasible. The same case might happen with the yet to be conducted 2019 census. In as much Kenyans who have participated in the census before have some understanding of the significance of the exercise, majority of them haven’t fully appreciated why the government need to collect census data every ten years. Secondly, past exercises don’t seem to have been taken with the seriousness they deserve, where the government has been accused of manipulating the census data to achieve political objectives. Questions have been asked on whether it is actually justified to spend billions of shillings of National Census data, when Government policies and projects aren’t formulated with population data in consideration. Leaders from various parts of the country have decried Government’s distribution of national resources despite those parts having significant population numbers according to previous census reports.

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Now, instead of the government threatening Kenyans to participate in the 2019 census, what it should have done is to come up with a properly structured civic education awareness campaign meant to convince Kenyans, in the humblest ways possible and in a manner that will make sense to them, why they should participate in the census. Further, the government ought to have taken the opportunity to convince the country on how it plans to use the census data in the next ten years, and put forward metrics Kenyans can gauge to see for themselves how the census data has helped the government implement important policies and development agenda.

But I have one question, how will the government know that I have provided wrong information?

See also: Malpractices rock the 2019 KNBS Census recruitment process

Odipo Riaga
Managing Editor at KachTech Media
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