Mandera reports shrinking population in wake of insecurity

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019 03:24 |
Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Director General Zachary Mwangi

North Easterh recorded continued population growth to hit the two million mark.

However, the number of people in Mandera county went down from 1.2 million to 867,457 people.

In the census results released yesterday, Wajir county’s population increased from 648,000 in 2009, to 781,263 people while Garissa’s population grew by 133,263 over the same period.

The shrinking population in Mandera has been attributed to insecurity in the recent past forcing people to shift to safer counties in the region.

In the 2009 census, the population in North Eastern region rose almost three-fold, from 962,143 in 1999 to 2.3 million in 2009. 

In Mandera the numbers had quadrupled in a decade. 

Local leaders attributed the rapid growth to sensitisation by both the political and administrative leadership on the need to be enumerated.


“I fail to understand why people read so much into the population growth in our region. The leaders in the region take census seriously and go out of our way to mobilise our people to be enumerated unlike other regions” said a Member of Parliament from the region.

The explosion of the Somali population caused tension in the 2009 census with many Kenyans questioning the credibility of the exercise.

The results of the census that covered North Eastern region were partially cancelled by the then Planning Minister Wycliffe Oparanya, who is the current Governor of Kakamega county.

The cancellation was, however, reversed after the matter was taken to court. 

Population trends

Said Oparanya then: “The numbers from North Eastern region did not fit the normal population trends and that is why I rejected them.”

It emerged then that the population growth rates in the region deviated significantly from patterns noted in the rest of the country and in the respective neighbouring districts.

For instance, in the current census results, Marsabit county recorded 459,785 people, Isiolo 268,002 and Tana River 315,943.

The population in the northern region appeared to be growing rapidly compared with other regions despite the fact that the area had fewer women.

“My understanding at the time was that the region inflated their numbers to benefit from increased resources allocation after devolution,” Oparanya was quoted as saying.

Counties receive allocations that are commensurate with their population numbers.

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