Economic planning: Why it is important for all to take part in census

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019 00:00 |
National Census. Photo/Courtesy

Kevin Mabonga

On 24th and 25th of this month, the government will be undertaking a population census – one of the most important activities in any country’s planning. 

Census may be defined as regular counting of the number of people in a country by the government for the purposes of economic planning and development. It reports human population trends which could be useful to project the future. This will be Kenya’s seventh such event.

Kenya’s last census took place in 2009, which put the population at more than 38 million people. The exercise was conducted previously in 1948, 1962, 1969, 1979, 1989 and 1999, and is spearheaded by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS)for the government.

 It is conducted in accordance with the Constitution 2010 (Fourth Schedule part 1 item 11) and the Statistics Act, which mandates the agency to conduct the population and housing census every 10 years, and such other censuses and surveys as the board may determine. KNBS also maintains a comprehensive national socio-economic database.

According to KNBS, this year’s census questionnaire was prepared through a consultative process. The key questions to be asked include age, sex, marital status, births, deaths, migration, forms and severity of difficulties in performing of 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. 

Through population census, the government will acquire information that is crucial for planning, provision of social amenities and distribution of national resources, among others.

Through population census, the government will know the number of taxable adults and the information is used in the estimation of the expected revenue for a particular period and establishing the education needs of the population. 

The   information can be used  to determine what social amenities to provide to a particular area.

  The number of employed  could easily be known  through census,  making it possible  to establish the unemployment rate. Most importantly, census guides the distribution of resources. These, and many other reasons make it an important activity for  national and county governments. 

Census information is also important for businesses. For investments or to sell products and services, companies need information on location of potential customers. Census data help companies decide where to locate distribution centres to best serve  customers.

The media can use the data  for   news stories, features  and documentaries, including population demographics. Students and researchers will also find the data useful.  Participating in the census ensures your data is captured and you can contribute to the knowledge which informs various reports.

There have been issues raised about the accuracy of such data.  By employing technology, as KNBS plans to do, the data will be accurate for commercial, political and research efforts.  Finally, the government has indicated that the census data is confidential. All information collected is strictly for use by census officials and that all officials will swear an “Oath of Secrecy” as embodied in the Statistics Act 2006. 

The oath forbids census officials from disclosing the information collected to unauthorised persons. I hope professionalism, transparency, accountability  will be upheld during the exercise to ensure credibility and public confidence.

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