Failure to answer enumerators’ questions or giving them false information during the upcoming Population and Housing Census that kicks off in five days will attract a Shs3.5m (Ksh100,000) fine or six months imprisonment.
Those who play hide and seek with the census enumerators and those who boycott the count will also pay the same amount of fine or face a one-year jail term.
President Uhuru Kenyatta last month signed into law the Statistics (Amendment) Bill and the Accreditation Service Bill, which prescribes the stringent penalties to enhance authenticity of the data collected and public compliance with the census.
Some of the sensitive topics Kenyans are likely to asked to reveal include stillbirths in the household, cause of deaths in the household and the identity of the biological parents of children in the household.
Census enumerators will also be seeking answers to personal details like property ownership, number of wives, those living with disability, amount of money remitted by emigrants to households and whether any occupant of a household has albinism.
“Any person who hinders or obstructs the director-general (of the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics) or any authorised officer in the execution of any powers conferred under this Act commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand shillings or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months or to both,” says the Act.
The Statistics Act is aimed at streamlining the management of information at national and county levels by ensuring data collection and processing is conducted in accordance with international best practices and standards.
“Any person who willfully fails to give any information or particular as required under this Act commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand shillings or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to both.”
The law gives census officials who will be accompanied by security agents powers to access any premises or house for the purpose of enumerating their occupants.
Respondents have the option of stating whether they are Kenyans if they do not want to reveal their ethnicity.
Eighth census since 1948
The census, which kicks off on Saturday night, will be the eighth since the first one conducted in 1948 and the sixth since Kenya’s independence.
It is the first one to be carried out using digital gadgets, a paperless process that seeks to ensure accuracy, speed of processing and security of the data, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the agency charged with carrying out the census.
All persons who will be within Kenya’s borders on census night (August 24/25) will be counted. This includes people found in the households, those in transit, individuals in hotels and lodges and institutions such as hospitals and prisons, among others.
Counting of people will start on the night of August 24, and continue up to August 31, when it is scheduled to end. People will be counted with reference to where they spent the night of August 24/25, called the Census Reference Night. That means those who miss out on the counting on the first night will still be counted.
The initial census report is expected after three months, while the detailed analytical reports will be released within one year.
The KNBS census questionnaire shows that the government is also seeking to establish a comprehensive database of household wealth; including employment status, livestock owned, electronics such as TVs, radios and computers, motor vehicles and even internet connection.
Kenya conducts its household census every 10 years. This year’s census is expected to cost the taxpayer Sh18.5 billion. The last count, done in 2009, cost KSh8.4 billion.
The census report, according to the KNBS, provides information that is essential for “evidence-based development planning, making administrative and policy decisions, and research.”
The population data gathered from the census is shared among key government ministries and departments to guide in resource allocation and wealth distribution.
The results will also be used by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in the planned boundary demarcation ahead of the 2022 General Election.
KNBS director-general Zachary Mwangi, in an earlier interview, assured Kenyans on the confidentiality of the statistics presented to the census team, which he said, will act “as provided for in the Statistics Act, 2006”.
The survey will involve 138,572 enumerators, 22,268 content supervisors and 2,467 ICT supervisors.