By Hon. Billow Kerrow
Kenyans are headed for the 2019 Census this weekend. As expected, some leaders are calling on residents of their counties to travel to their home locations for the headcount. Yet, others are indifferent. But some residents opposed to the leadership of their counties are indignant, unwilling to travel home to be counted, citing misuse of county funds among other concerns about their leadership.
Census is a critical planning tool that is used by the State to allocate national and county resources, plan development projects, plan socio-economic programmes, boundaries delimitation, provide social facilities, among other important matters. It is important to all of us, now and in the future. Leaders come and go, but our home county will always be home.
It is necessary for those who are resident in their home counties and are currently away from home on business, studies, job seekers or other reasons, to travel back home to be counted. This is particularly important for residents of North Eastern and pastoralists who are always on the move, and whose population is under scrutiny by some in Government determined to see lower figures.
It is imperative that the perception that Northern Kenya is unpopulated be repudiated once again. These policy makers in Nairobi live in the mindset of the colonialists; American writer Nigley Farson wrote in 1960 that “there is one half of Kenya about which the half knows nothing and seems to care even less..”.
Census is a function of both levels of government according to my interpretation, and hence counties should have budgeted for logistical support to residents in the census.
The 4th Schedule of our Constitution that sets out functions between the two levels of government states that the National Government has a mandate on “national statistics and data on population, the economy and society generally”. Similarly, under the counties functions, the Schedule states “County planning and development, including—
(b) land survey and mapping;
(c) boundaries and fencing;
(d) housing;” which also implies a role in population and data use that essentially relies on census.
I urge residents of my home county of Mandera and others from the North Eastern to travel back to their home locations for the count, notwithstanding your position on matters noted above. Those wholly resident in places outside their regions can be counted there.
For instance, I am resident in Nairobi, and will be counted in Nairobi. However, all my relatives and family members resident in Mandera but on visit elsewhere will travel back to Mandera to be counted. That’s as it should be Folks.
Billow Kerrow is former Senator, Mandera County.