Nyeri leaders differ over census figures

Questions raised over paltry population increase of about 6,500 a year

In Summary

• Deputy governor Karugu says she has requested KNBS to supply her with in-depth report to study

• But Kahiga says census reflects figure collected during registration for UHC last year

Governor Mutahi Kahiga being enumerated at his home in Nyeri town in August
CENSUS: Governor Mutahi Kahiga being enumerated at his home in Nyeri town in August

Nyeri leaders continue to give mixed reactions to the 2019 National Population and Housing Census figures published on Monday.

While some are content with the figures, others claim that the numbers do not reflect the reality on the ground.

The results were handed over to President Uhuru Kenyatta by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics on Monday.

Nyeri Deputy Governor Caroline Karugu said it was difficult to say whether the figures were tampered with without sufficient evidence and especially given that the census process was conducted digitally.

The deputy governor said she had requested KNBS to supply her with the in-depth report so she can study the results further.

Karugu said she was interested in finding out the area’s death rate, birth rate and life expectancy.

The population grew from 693,558 in 2009 to 759,164 in 2019, which is a difference of 65, 606.

According to the census, the whole country’s population increase was seven million people in 10 years meaning the population was growing at the rate of 700,000 every year which translates to 14,900 people in a year per county.

“If the average growth for the entire country is 14, 900 per county while Nyeri increase by only 6000, then there must be a problem,” she said.

The DG said the numbers should be scrutinized in the second stage to find out what the problem is.

Governor Mutahi Kahiga said he accepted the figures as they were a reflection of the reality.

He said the census numbers reflected the figure recorded during the registration for the universal healthcare programme last year.

Some 715, 523 people registered for UHC.

Nyeri is among the four counties selected to pilot UHC.  The others are Machakos, Kisumu and Isiolo.

The governor attributed the slow growth to the high uptake of contraceptives.

He also attributed the low number to migration of the youth from the county to major towns.

But Nyeri Senator Ephraim Maina disputed the figures and called for a thorough audit of the results.

He said the voter register used in the 2017 General Election showed that Nyeri had 400,000 registered voters.

“Normally, the voters are three times less the total number of the population. This means the total population in Nyeri as per the recent census should have been slightly above 1 million,” he told the Star.  

Nyeri town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu accepted the numbers. “Those complaining about census numbers should give us theirs we compare,” he said.