NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 20 – Planning Minister Wycliffe Oparanya officially launched the National Census Steering Committee on Tuesday, to oversee the 2009 Population and Housing census to be conducted in August.,
The committee comprises of representatives of various stakeholders including government agencies, Non-governmental organizations, the media, religious organisations and institutions of higher learning among others.
Mr Oparanya said the committee would be mandated to oversee policy guidance at the Census Secretariat on the implementation of the census activities.
“We are seven months from the census date of August 24 and 25 and the focus will be on preparing respondents in all parts of the country who are expected to provide information,” Mr Oparanya said.
The Minister further defended the Sh7 billion budgeted for the exercise especially, in light of the current food emergency.
“This is an exercise that is very important since the ministry of planning is right in the middle of scheduling for the country and without the statistics that will be collected during this process, forecasting for the country becomes an impossibility,” he explained.
Mr Oparanya said the Ministry of Finance had already provided Sh1 billion for the exercise, adding that Sh3 billion would be factored in the supplementary estimates coming before Parliament in the month of March.
“The balance of Sh3 billion will be given immediately in the next budget,” he said.
He added that the information collected in the census will be useful for measuring changing dynamics of the Kenyan population, providing baseline data for Vision 2030 and global initiatives.
“Everyone will be counted including refugees; there will only be a classification to show that this particular people are refugees,” Mr Oparanya said and asked the team to complete the compilation process in three months.
However Director General of the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Anthony Kilele said the recommended period for this kind of task by the United Nations is one year.
“We will be dealing with enormous amounts of data and the faster we try to complete this task, the more expensive the exercise becomes,” Mr Kilele observed.
“Considering the amount of data and the funds available to us, I would say the best we can offer is a timeline of six months, and this is quite optimistic,” he said.
The Planning Minister expressed optimism that this may be the last manual census exercise with the planned launch of digital villages across the country.
“Once the digital villages are in place am sure we will be able to collect this kind of statistics every year,” he said.