Census figures should inform State planning

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019 07:20 |
Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Director General Zachary Mwangi

The 2019 national population census results released yesterday paint a disturbing picture of how the number of Kenyans has grown and related demographics.

There are 47,564,296 people in Kenya, according to census figures. It turns out that our numbers grew by nine million in the last decade in a country that has 23,548,056 male and 24,014,716 females. 

The country’s growth rate has been on a downward trend from 2.9 per cent to 2.2 per cent in 1999 to 2009 and 2009 to 2019, respectively. Though nominal, family size control endeavours may be bearing fruit.

Interestingly, Mandera county has the biggest household size in the country at 6.9, with Nairobi least at 2.9. This must worry planners and economists, as it appears population density is inversely proportional to size of family. That may sound like a conundrum that needs to be unravelled.

Nairobi is the most populous county with 4.3 million people while Lamu county is the least populated area with some 143,920 people. By the same token, this means allocation of resources may have to be re-looked at in terms of the numbers of people served, though the Equalisation Fund is meant to take care of such disparities.

Kenya’s average household size is at 3.9, the report says. This implies that an average four people per house. But again, Mandera and Nairobi, for example, the least and most populated, defy these figures. Ijara sub-county in Garissa county has the highest household size of 7.7, an indication that there are at least seven people per family in the region. Cultural leanings may be responsible, or are there other factors at play?

Mandera, Wajir, and Marsabit counties have the highest household size ranging from 4.1 to 7.7. It is important that government starts to mull these figures, as they may interfere with the attempts at provision of education and health infrastructure to maintain some semblance of balance and equity.

Critically, though, the fact that our numbers grow by a million people per year may paint a grim scenario, given our economic growth rate is currently about 5.8 per cent. The government may want to up its game in raising social overhead capital, even as it grapples with the provision of the projected 500,000 houses per year under the Big Four.

Further, more money should be spent on infrastructure amenities, going forward.

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