Census 2019: In 1948 the first population census in Kenya was undertaken but the results were published in 1952. The current estimated population of Kenya, is 52,210,000 million, which ranks 27th in the world. The last official census took place in Kenya back in 2009 and the results indicated that 38,610,097 made up Kenya’s population then.

Despite the expected significance of this exercise, Census in Kenya comes with many controversies. Many Kenyans do not understand why and how it works. Misinformation could lead to a breach of their privacy. As we speak, there has already been reports of persons being threatened or the exercise is being stopped when they decline to answer the request for their passport and identity number. The 2019 census is regulated by the Official Statistics Act.

In case you missed it, the Government of Kenya just got very personal. In the last eight months, the Government has introduced one substantive legislative amendment, one draft policy and two bills that seek to normalise invasive identity registration, digital mass surveillance and tighter controls over how we may access information online in future.

Before you continue reading this, I highly recommend this article about Huduma number and the potential of breaching people’s privacy. Click here for more information.

2019 Amnesty Kenya Census Advisory

Kindly note that the 2019 Census exercise is voluntary…

The schedule in the Act does not include any information that personally identifies you. By our law and international standards, censuses are anonymous exercises.

Complains of Harassment (Get Help):

Should you choose not to answer and are threatened with arrest by enumerator please TEXT your Fall name, Mobile number, Date, Time and Location of incident, name of the enumerator and the type of threat to us. WhatsApp us +254 762 242651 Your information will be treated with the strictest confidence.

In the 1979 census the Kalenjin sub-groups, Nandi, Kipsigis, Tugen et al. were amalgamated into one identity on paper and formed part of the basis of President Moi’s politics from then on
In the 1979 census the Kalenjin sub-groups, Nandi, Kipsigis, Tugen et al. were amalgamated into one identity on paper and formed part of the basis of President Moi’s politics from then on
Kenya's youth population is over 9.5 million people, making up more than 20 per cent of all Kenyans. This is the same across the African continent, home to 226 million youth aged 15-24. #KenyaCensus2019 #JitokezeUhesabike #CountMeIn Click To Tweet

Constitution of Kenya: Article 31

Every person has the right to privacy, which includes the right not to have:

  1. their person, home or property searched;
  2. their possessions seized;
  3. information relating to their family or private affairs unnecessarily required or revealed; or
  4. the privacy of their communications infringed.

Amnesty Kenya issued a Census Advisory based on critical things you should know about Kenya’s 2019 National Population Census:

What are your rights and responsibilities during a census?

  • 1. You have a right to be counted. While voluntary, it is your civic duty to participate. Participating is voluntary, but giving false information is illegal
  • 2. The Government must protect your right to privacy and confidentiality under the constitution.

Why should you participate in the census?

  • 3. The census determines your right to participation, to be recognized by the state and receive public funding and essential services under our Bill of Rights
  • 4. It is the basis in which the Government of Kenya will undertake evidence-based planning for the future development of the nation and 47 counties.

What can you expect during the national census?

  • 5. For the first time, enumerators wearing government reflector jackets accompanied by uniformed police officers will digitally capture your data using internet ready mobile tablets.
  • 6. You can expect to be asked questions listed in the Statistics Act.
Kenya’s population has grown from 8.6 million in 1962 to 11 million in 1969 when a census was conducted; to 15.3 million in 1979; 21.4 million in 1989; 29 million in 1999 and around 40 million in 2009
Kenya’s population has grown from 8.6 million in 1962 to 11 million in 1969 when a census was conducted; to 15.3 million in 1979; 21.4 million in 1989; 29 million in 1999 and around 40 million in 2009

What else should you know about the management of your data and privacy?

  • 7. Questions P.60, P.61 and P.62 may ask you for your Huduma Namba, National ID and Passport registration status and your ID and Passport numbers respectively. Should you answer these questions you will have given away your personal identity, and given the GPS location attached to your information, your location as well
  • 8. Censuses avoid having unique identifiers such as ID numbers in digital systems, especially those not backed by a data protection framework. Whether you registered for Huduma Namba or your registration number is outside the type of questions specified under the Statistics Act.
  • 9. The inclusion of individual indicators could expose all persons who are not registered. It could also be used to victimise marginalized groups such as intersex persons, refugees and other minorities.
  • 10. For your data to be secure, the tablets must be free from interception, interference or use for any purpose apart from establishing national data trends. Without a comprehensive Data Protection Law, your personal data and location is not yet safe.

Amnesty International Kenya does not wish to instruct Kenyans on how to respond to census questions. We offer this advisory to inform the public’s choice.

We leave it to you and your families to answer all or some of the questions based on your conscience and judgement.

Amnesty Kenya

For more information call the KNBS toll free number 0800-221-020 Follow #KenyaCensus2019 #JitokezeUhesabike #CountMeIn

Amnesty Kenya
Amnesty Kenya

Census 2019: Negotiated Fertilities, Ethnic Head Counts and the Politics of Revenue Sharing

Censuses across the continent are intensely politicised affairs. Ethnic numbers have implications on political identity and legitimacy; the dishing out of patronage and government spending in general.

In the 1979 census the Kalenjin sub-groups, Nandi, Kipsigis, Tugen et al. were amalgamated into one identity on paper and formed part of the basis of President Moi’s politics from then on.

The 2009 results were so controversial that at first the government disowned the results from entire parts of northern Kenya including: Lagdera, Mandera East, Mandera Central, Mandera West, Wajir East, Turkana North, Turkana South and Turkana Central districts.

The 2009 data, for example, meant that in a single decade the Somali community had overtaken the Kisii in size. The minister’s review of the census data was challenged in court where the High Court upheld the census results.

John Githongo, E Review.

Cyrus Oguna – Government response to Census Privacy Concerns:

For the first time, census data will be captured electronically through a mobile device (tablet)
For the first time, census data will be captured electronically through a mobile device (tablet)

In a statement sent to newsrooms earlier on Saturday, Oguna the enumerators will be accompanied by police officers, area chief, or sub-chief, a village elder or chairpersons of estate associations. He added that the enumerators will no longer be moving around carrying along bulky sheets of questionnaire.

All data will be captured digitally through a tablet computer. This method enhances security of data and guarantees speed of data processing and analysis. Oguna said the devices are designed for this exercise and cannot be used for any other purpose.

The statement has raised the concern of observers, who criticised the Sh18.5 billion census project that uses equipment that can never be reused.

Press Statement by the Acting Cabinet Secretary for National Treasury and Planning Hon. (Amb.) Ukur Yatani on the upcoming 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census

Government Spokesman Cyrus Oguna (pictured) says elaborate security arrangement has been put in place
Government Spokesman Cyrus Oguna (pictured) says elaborate security arrangement has been put in place

Amnesty International response to Government Statement:

Amnesty International appreciates the prompt Government response to our advisory yesterday. The advisory raised our concern with data protection, introduction of census questions regarding Huduma Namba and collection of unique identifiers such as National ID and Passport Numbers during the National Population Census slated to start in a few hours.

The official statement released by the Government Spokesperson. (Rtd) Col. Cyrus Oguna today Confirms that all persons will be asked whether they have:

a) Registered for Huduma Number or not;
b) A National ID and Passport Number and for their numbers for these unique identifiers

The Government statement justifies the collection of the numbers to “establish the number of those who have actually acquired these documents, for planning purposes” and assures all persons that personal identity from ID and Passport data collected will be removed during data analysis.

Amnesty International maintains that the introduction of questions related to Huduma Namba, National ID and Passport registration and their numbers are not within the realm of the matters contemplated under the Statistics Act. We remain concern that questions linked by GPS location can identify specific individuals and their homes with the information they supply.

A Simple yes or no question on whether one has, or not, a passport and ID would have been enough to establish how many have these documents. The collection of unique identifiers is totally unnecessary for the purpose of a Census. The statement seems to conflate the purpose of a census and role of the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics with the registration of persons and the role of the Department of Immigration and Registration of Persons.

We remind the Government of Kenya of its constitutional duty to uphold the right to privacy for all persons. The collection of vast amounts of sensitive personal data on digital devices without a comprehensive data protection law is not in the interest of people, constituencies, counties or the state.

We reiterate our understanding of the national census as a vital tool for policy.making and public resource allocation. It is a moment for collective civic action. Not withstanding our deep concerns, we hope census  proceeds effectively and allows all persons to safely and voluntarily contribute to this important national exercise.

Amnesty International

Why does the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics conduct Census?

So why does the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, also KNBS (which is in charge of the Census 2019), collect information about Kenyans? Well, the purpose of the census information is to get a broader sense about the population in general so as to plan budgetary allocations. Enumerators, also known as census takers, conduct the research on behalf of KNBS. They collect household and demographic information by canvassing their assigned areas.

Kenya’s population was reported as 38.6 million during the 2009 census compared to 28.7 million inhabitants in 1999, 21.4 million in 1989, and 15.3 million in 1979. This was an increase of 2.5 percent over 30 years, or an average growth rate of more than 3 percent per year.

Why Intersex Gender Matters During the Kenya National Census 2019

Why Intersex Gender Matters During the Kenya National Census 2019
Why Intersex Gender Matters During the Kenya National Census 2019

With intersex gender, there is more than is on the surface at the Kenya National Census 2019

Intersex consideration during the upcoming census will mark the first time in Kenya’s 56 year history that the decennial counting of the people will ask a question on gender beyond the traditional male and female, reported, Linnah Taliah from Business Today.

The new directive introduced by The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) after discussions, and following the Registrar of Societies in Kenya recognizing the Intersex Persons Society of Kenya (ISPK) last year, has naturally brought up discussions. This has resulted in the topic of intersex trending on social media sites.

Stigma, Seclusion and Inability to Identify Intersex Persons

Few documented cases by the media has shown intersex persons ready to come out and be identified as part of the society. The few who have come out in the recent past have narrated of how the stigma may have to in some cases suicidal attempts or dropping out of school for the fear of being stigmatized and seclusion.

Regardless, data collected on intersex persons, as is one of the objectives of the census, will help the government to keep primary source data for the planning and detailing of individuals in the country.

This, one hopes, will help the government plan accordingly for the intersex population in the country. Knowledge of numbers will help in the consideration of planning for health, education, employment, businesses and insurance covers. The factual data that will be owned by the government will help the process become easier.

Census 2019 Frequently Asked Questions according to KNBS

Census 2019- Negotiated Fertilities, Ethnic Head Counts and the Politics of Revenue Sharing
Census 2019- Negotiated Fertilities, Ethnic Head Counts and the Politics of Revenue Sharing
What is a population Census?

A population census is the process of enumerating or counting all persons within the boundaries of a country or a well delineated part of a country at a specified time. The process involves collecting, compiling, evaluating, analyzing, publishing and disseminating demographic and socio-economic data.
kenya national bureau of statistics census 2019

What are the uses of the census data?

The census provides comprehensive and disaggregated information about the population.  The data generated, gives an accurate picture of how many people are living in a country, the distribution across every administrative unit and their living conditions, as well as access to basic services.

Other uses include resource allocation, delineation of boundaries, research and creation of household-based sampling frames for future surveys.

When will the 2019 census enumeration be conducted?

Enumeration of people will start on the night of 24th August 2019 (census reference night), and end on 31st August 2019. During the enumeration period, people will be enumerated with reference to where they will have spent the night of 24th August 2019.

What is pre-enumeration listing of households?

Prior to actual enumeration, pre-enumeration listing of households will be done on 22nd and 23rd August 2019. This is listing of all the households within a given enumeration area to establish the number of households in readiness for actual census enumeration. During the listing exercise, all the households will be given numbers which will be labelled on the door frame or any other visible area.

Who will be enumerated?

All persons within the borders of Kenya during the reference night including outdoor sleepers, people on transit, individuals in hotels and lodges, and in institutions such as hospitals and prisons will be enumerated.

It should be noted that, a child who is born after the mid-night of 24th August 2019 will not be counted but a person who dies after the mid-night of 24th August 2019 will be counted as having been present on the census reference night.

A polygamous man will only be enumerated once in the household where he will have spent the night of 24th August 2019, while in the other household(s) his wife/wives will be enumerated as head(s) of the households together with other members of the household(s) who will have spent the night of 24th August 2019 there.

What about Kenyans in the diaspora?

Kenyans in the diaspora will not be enumerated. However, people will be asked to provide information about members of the household who have migrated to other countries since 2004.

If I have visitors on the night of the 24th August 2019, will they be enumerated as part of my household?

Yes. Anyone who will have spent the night of 24th August 2019 in your household will be enumerated together with your household members. Heads of households are encouraged to keep records of visitors who will have spent the night of 24th August 2019, in case they leave before the households are enumerated to assist in responding to questions that will apply to the visitors.

Where will the people on night duty be enumerated?

All those on duty on the night of 24th August 2019 such as doctors, nurses, census officials and watchmen will be enumerated with their households.

How will the 2019 Census data be captured? 

For the first time, census data will be captured electronically through a mobile device (tablet). The census questionnaires have been programmed and uploaded onto the tablets which have in-built checks to ensure data quality.

What are the key questions that will be asked during the 2019 census enumeration?

The key questions to be asked will be on: age, sex, marital status, births, deaths, migration, forms and severity of difficulties in performing daily life activities, educational attainment, labour force particulars, access and ownership of ICT equipment and services, crop farming, livestock and aquaculture, housing characteristics, and ownership of assets.

Will data on ethnic composition be collected?

Yes, information on tribe or ethnicity and nationality will be collected due to its statistical and cultural value. The data is used to assess the socio-economic characteristics of people of differing backgrounds and in the identification of minority groups. All previous censuses conducted in Kenya have collected data on ethnicity, reflecting a long-standing and continuing widespread demand for information about ethno-cultural characteristics of the Kenyan population. Those who do not wish to state their ethnicity have an option of stating that their ethnicity is Kenyan.

How long will it take to complete an interview for a household?

It is expected that an interview will take about 30 minutes, though this may be shorter or longer depending on the number of people who will be present on the census night.

Is there a guarantee that my information will remain confidential?

Yes. All information collected will be confidential as provided for by The Statistics Act 2006. All census officials will swear an “Oath of Secrecy” as embodied in the Act, which forbids them from divulging information collected to unauthorized persons.

What will show that a household has been enumerated?

After enumeration, the officials will write a number on the door or at any place on the structure to indicate that the enumeration has been conducted.  PLEASE DO NOT ERASE THE NUMBER. If there is no structure, as structure numbering card will be issued to the household after enumeration. DO NOT LOSE THE CARD.

What happens if one is not counted on the night of 24th August 2019? of the 24th/25th August, should they be counted as part of my household?

Census officials will proceed with enumeration for seven (7) days till 31st August 2019. All information will be provided in reference to the night of 24th August 2019.

Whom do I contact in case my household is not covered? 

All those who will not have been enumerated by 31st August 2019, should report to the local administrative office. However, care must be taken to ensure that you have indeed not been enumerated.

What are the security arrangements?

The security agencies are fully involved and are part of the national and county census committees. Enumerators will have official identity cards and reflector jackets for ease of identification. They have been recruited from where they live and are therefore, known to the locals. Enumerators will also be accompanied by village elders, leaders of resident associations and in certain cases, assistant chiefs who are well known by the residents.

What safeguards have been put in place against data manipulation? 

Several quality assurance measures are in place to ensure complete and accurate information is collected. This includes; continuous monitoring of collected information through the dash board and use of comprehensive inbuilt checks. Additionally, an independent team of experts in census-taking is expected to monitor the exercise across the country. Structures are also in place to ensure secure transmission of data.

When will the results be released?

It is expected that preliminary results will be released three months after the end of the exercise. The basic reports of the census are expected to be released within six months, while the detailed analytical reports will be released within one year after the census enumeration.

Census 2019 Frequently Asked Questions
Census 2019 Frequently Asked Questions