State deploys army officers to bolster census security

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019 00:00 |
Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Director of Population and Social Statistics MacDonald Obudho. Photo/PD/TABITHA MBATIA

The military will be deployed in some parts of the country to provide security for the upcoming first paperless population census, which takes place on the night of August 24/25.

 The Director of Population and Social Statistics at the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, MacDonald Obudho, said security deployment will depend on specific needs of an area. The National Police Service, prison warders and National Youth Service (NYS) personnel will be deployed to provide security for the exercise.

Details came even as Vigilance House remained cagey on the number of police officers scheduled to be deployed, it confirmed that all officers on leave have been recalled to beef up the team.

Director of Police Operations at Vigilance, Henry Barmao said contingency measures have been put in place to ensure that the exercise sails smoothly.

Security threat

“Though we can’t give you all the information that you are looking for due to its sensitivity, we have put in place proper contingencies to ensure that the exercise is a success,” was all that Barmao had to say.

But sources said more than 140, 000 security officers drawn from the Regular and Administration Police, General Service Unit (GSU), Prisons, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), and Ant-Stock Theft Police Unit (ASTU) have been mobilised to provide security. The enumerators especially in volatile areas such as Northern Kenya, Baringo and  Coast regions that have experienced rampant cases of terrorist and criminal  attacks will be  escorted by police officers.

The officers would also get supplementary support from the National Youth Service (NYS) and Kenya Forest Service (KFS) rangers in some areas.

In an interview with People Daily at his office yesterday, Obudho said the Interior ministry was handling the security aspect and adequate measures were in place to ensure the exercise will be free from interference, even from minor security incidents.

“As the exercise will be going on, security patrols will also be taking place and the personnel will bring together the police, officers from the Prisons department and NYS (while) the army will be in charge of some areas,” Obudho said.   

Though the government has suppressed activities of Somalia-based al-Shabaab extremists in the country, pockets of related activities have continued to be reported in areas along, and near the Kenya-Somalia boarder, notably Lamu, Mandera, Garissa and Wajir counties and parts of the Rift Valley such as Baringo, perhaps informing the decision to rope in the army.

Obudho said police would accompany enumerators in areas with security threats and also because in some settlements, criminals may take advantage to attack homes.

Further, to address the safety issue, other than the officers donning identification badges and branded reflector jackets, village elders will accompany them. Tomorrow and Friday, during the day, enumerators will conduct a pre-enumeration household listing.

This will not only ensure KNBS and field officers prepare themselves depending on their catchment area, but also for the residents to acquaint themselves with enumerators who will be in charge of their areas. KNBS has deployed 163, 400 officers in the Sh18.5 billion exercise, who, according to Obudho, will include 138, 572 enumerators, 22, 268 content supervisors and 2, 467 Information Communication and Technology (ICT) supervisors.

The enumerators will capture the data electronically using a mobile device (tablet) and will be required to regularly send the information to a server.  At least 166, 347 tablets have been dispatched to villages across the country where a four-day training of enumerators on the use of the gadgets ended yesterday.

Capture data 

The gadgets, which are being applied for the first time in the exercise which last took place in 2009, are in excess by over 2, 000 and which, according to Obudho, is deliberate. 

“There will be extra machines in every village to ensure that should any of them break down during the exercise, there will be immediate replacement to avoid any interruption,” he said.

The devices will capture the data offline, but shall require Internet to send the information to the server. In regions with poor network connectivity, field officers will travel to areas with good Internet coverage to transmit the data. 

With this technology, KNBS believes it will achieve accuracy in data collection, security of information and faster processing of the results, and also address concerns by some leaders who have been complaining that the 2009 exercise was skewed to the disadvantage of some areas.

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