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Economy

Census report to reveal your household wealth

potatoes census
Men transport potatoes to a market in Kibera, Nairobi, on August 12, 2019. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The State will know what kind of a house you live in, how many cars and chicken you own and the size of your land holding by the end of the Population and Housing Census, which kicks off in 11 days.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) Census questionnaire shows the government is 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 Sh8.4 billion.

The collection of population data will start on the night of August 24 to August 31, with the results expected in six months.

According to the raft of questions seen by the Business Daily, the State will ask Kenyans whether they own the houses they live in or have rented them.

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The enumerators will also seek to describe whether the houses are mud, brick or concrete walled.

They will look out for the nature of roof and pick out iron sheets, tiles or grass thatch.

In another set of questions, Kenyans will be required to state the number of cows, sheep, goats, camels, donkeys, pigs, chicken, rabbits or fish they own or rear.

The State also wants to know how many electronic gadgets, including a radio, television set (pay-TV or free-to-air sets) one owns.

Those connected to the Internet and those with pay-television will also be asked to reveal these details.

Other household assets to be declared include bicycles, motorcycles, cars, truck or lorries, refrigerators, animal-drawn carts or motor boats.

Kenyans engaged in farming will be required to itemise their activities in detail.

Size of land

In this set of questions, the State will seek to know the size of land they have put under farming and whether the farming activity is irrigated or rain-fed.

A sample question asks: “During the last 12 months, did any member of this household cultivate crops namely maize, sorghum, rice, potatoes, beans, among others?” Other questions will touch on ethnicity, professional qualifications, school attendance status and education attainment.

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 border demarcation ahead of the 2022 General Election.

“It is, therefore, extremely important that the data collected in the census is complete and accurate,” says KNBS. Kenyans who fail to offer information during the census risk a Sh100,000 fine or a year in jail, according to regulations published by the Treasury last year.

Samuel Nyandemo, an economics lecturer at the University of Nairobi, said the upcoming census will help the national and county governments properly grasp changes in economic development, plan for future projects and improve the authenticity of economic data.

Confidentiality

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 require 170,000 enumerators, 27,000 supervisors and 2,700 ICT supervisors, according to earlier communication by the agency.

Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and Moi University were contracted to supply 164,700 tablets to conduct the census. The tablets are installed with a tracking software, questionnaires and area maps.

In 2016, a team of Japanese scholars punched holes in Kenya’s economic growth model, saying it concentrates wealth in the hands of the elite and widens the gap between the rich and the poor, making it unsustainable.

The 10 scholars drawn from some of Japan’s top economic thinktanks and universities said in a Kenya-focused book that the Kenyan economy as then constituted did not promote inclusive growth and had failed to redistribute wealth to the poor with corresponding growth.

“Growth-leading sectors have not been broadly based in terms of poverty-reduction through employment creation. In short, the way of growth is not inclusive,” said Kyoto University Graduate School of Asian and African Studies Professor Takahashi Motoki, one of the lead authors of the book.

Rising inequality

The book, Contemporary African Economies: A Changing Continent under Globalisation, blamed Kenya’s rising inequality on restrictive economic policies that are not pro-poor.

“The government should invest in human resource development including health and education equitably. Such fundamental resource allocation should be regarded as basic entitlement of individuals and not favours that are influenced by electoral results or political consideration,” said Prof Motoki.

Kenya’s economy expanded at the fastest rate in eight years last year, largely on increased agricultural production. Economists have, however, warned that the robust growth could be hurt by poorly-distributed, below-normal rainfall in 2019.

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