NOT WHAT'S EXPECTED

Census results a measure of devoluton success

Ideally, we are supposed to have many ‘Nairobis’ in all the 47 counties.

In Summary
  • The fact that Nairobi has the highest population and is among those with the highest population growth rates is worrying.
  • This is because it demonstrates that devolution has failed or has not brought about the expected results.
Treasury CS Ukur Yatani receives the 2019 Census results from President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi, on Monday, November 4, 2019.
Treasury CS Ukur Yatani receives the 2019 Census results from President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi, on Monday, November 4, 2019.
Image: PSCU

The KNBS recently released the 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census results. To be accurate, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics released volume 1 of the results which covered the population by county and subcounty. 

The total population of Kenya is 47,564,296, representing a growth of 23.19 per cent compared to 2009, when the figure was 38,610,097.

Nairobi county has the highest population at 4,397,073. It is among the counties with the highest population growth rate. Population growth rate over the last 10 years is calculated by subtracting the population as per the 2009 census from the current census. The result is then divided by the 2009 census figure and multiplied by 100 per cent to get a percentage.

When you calculate the population growth rate using the prescribed formula, Nairobi is the sixth county with the highest population growth rate (over the last 10 years). The first is Isiolo, with 87.03 per cent. Kajiado follows at 62.64 percent, Marsabit at 57.91 percent, Kiambu at 48.94 percent, Lamu at 41.73 percent and Nairobi at 40.11 percent.

The fact that Nairobi has the highest population and is among those with the highest population growth rates is worrying. This is because it demonstrates that devolution has failed or has not brought about the expected results.

Article 174 of the 2010 Constitution stipulates the objectives of devolution. Among them are to promote equitable sharing of national and local resources throughout Kenya and to promote social and economic development.

We need to start thinking of planning our cities. It is practical to start with the towns where each county government has its capital. For example, in Machakos county we can ensure that Machakos town is at its best. The same applies to Meru town in Meru county and so on.

Therefore, ideally, through devolution we are supposed to have many ‘Nairobis’ throughout Kenya. This means that we should have towns growing at a fast rate across all the 47 counties. This is in order to stop people from wanting to settle in Nairobi but in these towns instead.

One town is enough for every county. In fact, Nairobi's population should be greatly declined or its population growth rate should be among the lowest. It's high population growth rate means we have a shortage of alternative towns and cities.

We need to start thinking of planning our cities. It is practical to start with the towns where each county government has its capital. For example, in Machakos county we can ensure that Machakos town is at its best. The same applies to Meru town in Meru county and so on.

According to the UN, 68 percent of the world’s population will be live in urban centres by 2050. This will be an increase from the current 55 percent. The UN further stipulates that 90 percent of this increase will take place in Asia and Africa.

If these statistics are anything to go by, then the more reason we have to carefully plan our towns and cities across all the 47 counties.

It is important however, to note that the population growth rate of counties such as Kiambu is high. This shows that people have started preferring counties at the outskirts of Nairobi to areas in the city. This is a positive occurrence, we should empower other counties to follow suit.

The 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census results prove that devolution should be taken more seriously. The other 46 counties (excluding Nairobi) should endeavour to develop their towns and cities to the level where they become an alternative to Nairobi. This will ensure that we are better prepared for the future.

Economist and founder of The Bizconomist Journal. [email protected]