How the numbers will shape hunt for votes in 2022 General Election

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019 00:00 | By
An enumerator takes a family in Kangemi, Nairobi through the process in the census carried out from August 24 to 31. PD/FILE

By Emeka-Mayaka Gekara

Kenya’s population grew by more than nine million to hit 47.5 million, a figure that could alter resource allocation to counties and shape political alliances ahead of the 2022 election.

In a country in which elections are virtually an ethnic census, political strategists are likely to examine the numbers with a tooth comb. 

There was a significant surge among members of the Somali community who recorded the highest number of people per household.

With a population of 862,079, Mandera is the most populous county in northern Kenya, followed by Garissa (841,353) and Wajir (781,263).

Numbers could give North Eastern counties considerable bargaining clout at the political table and in sharing of resources.

The census report released yesterday by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics revealed that 24 million of Kenya’s 47, 564, 296 people are female, while 23 million are male. Nearly 1,500 people are intersex. This means the country has 1.5 million more females than males.

Kenya National Bureau  of Statistics director Zachary Mwangi said the most populous counties are Nairobi (4.3 million), followed by Kiambu (2.4 million), Nakuru (2.1 million), Kakamega (1.8 million) and Bungoma (1.6 million).

Household size

Lamu with 143,920 people, Isiolo (268,002), Samburu (310,327), Tana River (315,943) and Taita Taveta (340,671) are the least populated.

The country’s average household size is 3.9, with families having at least four people.

Of counties in Northern Kenya, Mandera recorded the highest household size ranging from 4.1 to 7.7.

Ijara sub-county in Garissa has the highest household size of 7.7.

Political hotbeds of Central, Western, Rift Valley, Nyanza and Eastern regions recorded high population.

Receiving the report yesterday, President Uhuru Kenyatta said Kenya is the first country in Africa to release census results in two months.

“This is another milestone for our country,” he said.

The census was conducted from August 24 to 31.

Uhuru’s Kiambu county backyard has 2.4 million people, Murang’a (one million), Nyandarua (636,002), Nyeri (759,164 while Kirinyaga has 605,630 people.

Nairobi, Kiambu, Nakuru, Kakamega, Bungoma, Meru, Bungoma, Kilifi are the most populous counties. 

Kakamega is the most populous rural county with 1.87 million people while Bungoma has 1.67 million, Meru 1.54 million and Kilifi 1.45 million.

Other counties with more than a million people include Mombasa, Kisumu. Kisii, Kitui, Machakos, Murang’a, Uasin Gishu, Narok, Kajiado, Homa Bay and Migori.

“These results released today provide us (government) with a unique opportunity to realign our development strategies, polices and programmes,” said Uhuru.

Western counties and Nairobi are the most densely populated regions, followed by Nyanza, Central, Rift Valley and Mandera. North Eastern and Eastern come last in population density.

The population grew by 47.6 per cent compared to 37.7 per cent recorded in 2009, according to Mwangi who stressed that the Kenya Population and Housing Census followed the United Nations principles and recommendations for carrying out the 2020 round of censuses.

Family planning

“This is in response to the demand for statistical information for implementation of Kenya’s development agenda such as the Big Four agenda and Vision 2030 and other global initiatives including the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.

There was a dispute over the Somali population during the 2009 census with Some people in government claiming the figures were exaggerated.

Somali families are at least one and a half times bigger than the average household in Kenya, and twice as much as the families in Nyeri, Nairobi, Mombasa and Kiambu counties.

Whereas some households in North Eastern have about seven members on average, households in Kiambu, Nairobi, Nyeri and Murang’a have an average of three people, a situation attributable to family planning and urban-rural migration. 

With a combined population of over 4.4 million people, in the Western counties of Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia and Vihiga, region could be a critical battle ground in the 2022 election. 

The census will play a key role in distribute on of national resources.

In the run up to the census, some politicians has mobilised people in urban centres to go back to their home counties to raise numbers during the count.

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