KENYA: 2009 Census Plans On Track Despite Displacement

Posted on 20 March 2008. Filed under: Governance, Government, MDGs |

Photo: Allan Gichigi/IRIN
The census will cover the displaced wherever they will be

NAIROBI, 19 March 2008 (IRIN) – The political crisis in Kenya caused major population movements that may require a repeat of cartographic mapping in some areas before the 2009 census, but plans for the official count are on track, a government official told IRIN.

“We are revising our work plan and looking at areas where we might have to repeat cartographic mapping but we expect to hold the census on 25 August 2009 as planned,” said Chris Omolo, the census manager and principal economist at the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).

“We expect to be through with cartographic mapping countrywide by March 2009, May at the latest.”

With the support of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and other stakeholders, the development of all instruments for the exercise – manuals, questionnaires, etc – is expected to be ready in time.

Kemal Mustafa, UNFPA representative in Kenya, said early preparation was crucial. “Logistical mobilisation will not be easy as we head up to the census,” Mustafa said. “Lack of census data slows down the process through which the government can plan for the numbers of people requiring services.”

The January-February post-election violence had affected settlement patterns in parts of the country, Omolo said, but the statistics bureau had yet to assess the extent of this disruption.

“We expect things to go back to normal as we are now seeing many of those who had been displaced returning home,” he said. If, by August 2009, there were still internally displaced persons in the country, then “they will be counted wherever they will be”.

Nyanza, Rift Valley and Western provinces bore the brunt of the crisis.

''Though we have lost some time because of the crisis, we still expect to conduct the census on time; it all depends on how things settle in the next few months''

“When the violence erupted, cartographic mapping had been done in Nyanza, Western and parts of Rift Valley, excluding Uasin Gishu and Trans Nzoia districts, where we had just undertaken sensitisation ahead of the mapping,” Omolo said. “There are a few areas we may have to go back to and repeat the mapping. We have suspended mapping in some areas where there was massive population movement.”

The bureau, he added, was currently focusing on areas least affected by the violence, such as Eastern and Central provinces, where cartographic mapping was ongoing.

“Though we have lost some time because of the crisis, we still expect to conduct the census on time; it all depends on how things settle in the next few months,” Omolo said. “We base the census on the people’s places of abode and come the census night, we will consider all households wherever they will be.”

Given that the post-election crisis later took on ethnic dimensions, Omolo said, the bureau was treating the issue of formulating questions aimed at establishing ethnicity “very seriously”.

During the census in 1989 and in 1999, respondents were asked their ethnic backgrounds. But whereas the data regarding ethnicity was made public after the 1989 census, the findings for the 1999 census were not, due to the “sensitivity” of the issue.

The process of formulating the questionnaire for the 2009 census is under way, Omolo said, adding that it took into account compatibility with international standards and past practice.

Zipporah Gathiti, UNFPA monitoring and evaluation officer, said the agency was supporting KNBS in the development of an advocacy strategy, through the establishment of publicity teams that would be sent out on sensitisation campaigns ahead of the census.

The agency was also assisting KNBS in its development of an internet-based software system, the Integrated Multi-sectoral Information System (IMIS), which would eventually make census data available to the public.

Data from the 1989 and 1999 census had been uploaded to IMIS, she said. “A population census is the most comprehensive data collection you can have,” Gathiti said.

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MDGs: Africa Has No Excuse

Posted on 19 March 2008. Filed under: Development, Economy, Governance, Government, MDGs, Poverty |

Can Africa fulfill the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015?

That’s a question that is often asked anytime there is a discussion about MDGs. It was on many lips during the celebration of the International Women’s day last Saturday as people assess the gains and continuing challenges in ensuring gender equality around the world. Behind the question, of course, is a lot of cynicism by the questioner(s). There is doubt that the MDGs may not be met on schedule in a majority of African states. Official reports and anecdotal evidence suggest that at the current pace even by 2050 the goals may still remain unmet by these states.

The situation is not helped by the fact that most of the reports available are usually aggregated. Hence the negative conclusion is that Africa’s progress is at best very slow and patchy. Like all generalizations and aggregated statistics, they hide the specific, more positive picture of steady progress on a number of the goals in quite a few countries across Africa. It also panders to the fashionable Afro pessimism that caricatures events in Africa promoting embedded attitudes of ‘Hopeless Africa’. A ‘helpless people and continent’ that needs the help and handout of everybody else except its own peoples and leaders.

The truth is mostly to the contrary but ‘good stories’ are boring, they do not make headlines. Without bad stories from Africa, how can the hordes of humanitarian agencies and organizations, local and foreign, who operate as latter day missionaries or mercy mercenaries make their fund raising successful? How can the compassion industry survive without the backdrop of Kwashiokored children, diseased mothers and other suffering Africans?

It is rather late in the day to be asking if Africa can meet the MDGs or not. Still more pointless are the criticisms of the goals as being too minimal. All of them are more than 7 years out of date. We are halfway through and those questions are unhelpful especially among campaigners who are committed to holding their governments to account for these commitments. The problem with asking the wrong questions is that you get the wrong answers that may divert you from the tasks in hand. A more proactive way of looking at this is to ask what can be done to fill the obvious gaps that still exist that may prevent countries from meeting the goals. The desirability of the goals is no longer debatable. Meeting them will not hurt anyone. If you can half poverty nobody will stop you from eradicating it.

Answering the more proactive type of questions also requires one to look at the progress that has been achieved instead of just looking for the challenges. An appreciation of progress so far will then open one’s eyes to the challenges of what remains to be done. Then we will ask what more needs to be done to make sure that there are no excuses for not meeting these goals and even surpassing them in many cases.

In almost all African countries, there has been remarkable progress in education in terms of enrolment in schools. There is universal access to education across many countries that have allowed millions of girls and boys who would not have seen the inside of classrooms to do so. Ghana, Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and others are good examples of the rapid enrolment in schools. On child mortality, Malawi is only second to Costa Rica in the dramatic drop in child deaths (over 30%) in the past three years. The same Malawi that used to rank as the ‘poorest country in the world’, a country that was recipient of Food Aid a few years ago, has now become a food donor to some of its poorer neighbours including Zimbabwe. On controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS, Uganda used to be a lone star but a few other countries have become even more aggressive in fighting the disease.

Huge numbers of African children today have better chances of survival than 10 years ago. More and more are likely to live beyond their 5th birthdays and have hopes of going to primary school and even better chances of going on to higher education as countries upscale their investments in education and move beyond universal primary education to secondary education.

It is not all smooth sailing. There are issues around quality, retention in schools and drop out rates between boys and girls among others. However, quantitative changes are important steps as countries deal with the issues of quality. We cannot say that more children should not go to school until all schools are of the same quality. Both go hand in hand.

The external environment is also changing as international partners are held to more scrutiny and challenged to walk the walk as fast as they talk the talk. Debt relief has not been universal and a majority of African states have not become beneficiaries, but the minority (Uganda, Mozambique, Ghana, Rwanda, Malawi, Zambia, etc) that have got it are generally transforming the gains into meaningful dividends on a number of MDGs.

Those not qualified like Nigeria, but who have renegotiated discounts on their National Debt, have not only increased the country’s financial credibility but also Nigeria now also has a virtual fund of more than 1 billion Dollars that is devoted to MDGs. In many countries the MDGs are being localized with targets that are more ambitious than those of the Millennium Declaration.

So the question is not whether we can meet the goals or not, but why country X is doing well on a number of goals and country Y is not performing. By concentrating on ‘can’t meet,’ we are letting political leaders off the hook of accountability for commitments they made voluntarily to their own citizens. Seven years may not be long but it is certainly long enough for all the countries to change their policy direction and resource allocation that prioritize the needs of the poor and marginalized and accelerate the fulfillment of the MDGs.

African citizens have a duty to remind their leaders about these commitments and be vigilant in demanding that they are met and even go beyond them where possible. If the goals are not met it will not just be because of government insensitivity but also citizen complacency or indifference.

By Dr. Tajudeen Abdul
Deputy Director, Africa, for the UN Millennium Campaign based in Nairobi Kenya. He writes this weekly column in his personal capacity as a Pan Africanist and a Director of the London-Based Justice Africa

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Kenya: Entering The World of the Displaced

Posted on 11 March 2008. Filed under: Food Security, Government, Insecurity, Politics, Refugees/ IDPs |

Monica Busolo

Monica Busolo, mother of four (ages 8, 5, and 2 years–and 6 weeks), outside their tent in a displaced persons’ camp in Molo, Kenya.
Photo: Micah McCoy/CW


MOLO, KENYA—Two and half months since the upheaval that followed Kenya’s December 27 disputed presidential elections began, over 1,000 Kenyans are dead and nearly half a million displaced. The political impasse was finally broken as President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga signed a power sharing agreement on February 28, but those left homeless and displaced continue to languish in the discomfort and uncertainty of the various refugee camps that have sprung up throughout the country. Having nothing to return home to and nothing to move on to, the internally displaced people of Kenya are stuck in a state of limbo. Their lives are stalled, but life itself does go on.


Molo, Kenya, is now home to 25,000 people displaced by the continuing violence and instability, with new arrivals every day fleeing from the surrounding areas. The Molo camps are seeing new arrivals of another sort, as well. The post-election violence forced many women to flee in the advanced stages of pregnancy. Now they must bring their children into the world displaced. Eighteen newborns have been added to the roster of the displaced here since the camps were established in early January.





Rebecca Munyangi with her new daughter
Rebecca Munyangi with her new daughter, Merren, born into the world displaced.
Photo: Micah McCoy/CWS

Rebecca Munyangi left her home in the village of Mushorui when an armed gang showed up at her house in January. Eight months pregnant, she was forced to flee with her family to find refuge at the internally displaced person (IDP) camp at Pyrethrum Board of Kenya in Molo. On February 9, she was rushed from the camp to the Molo General Hospital, where she gave birth to a daughter, Merren.


“I was of course afraid because I wasn’t being attended medically [while in labor]. I was rushed to the general hospital around 1 AM and delivered at 2 AM. The life for children here in the camps is very difficult because of malnutrition and disease,” says Rebecca. “My baby has already been sick with malaria, and we don’t have enough to eat…only one meal a day. There are a lot of problems here. Feeding is rare, and all we have to sleep on is a blanket spread on the floor. Life is difficult. We are not used to this life.”


Rebecca’s sister-in-law, Evelyn Moraa, is also living at the camp with her own infant. She agreed with Rebecca’s assessment of the situation saying, “We wake up and we idle around all day. If there is food, we cook and eat but we don’t have enough. We only get a cup of maize flour per day per person and a few vegetables–that is not enough.”


The problem of food and nutrition continues to be difficult to solve. The Kenya Red Cross, the current camp administrators, make a biweekly food delivery to the camps along with other intermittent deliveries by various churches and relief organizations, but there is trouble keeping up with the massive rate and scale of human displacement. Further complicating matters, security issues along the roads in conflict areas make delivery of food and other relief supplies difficult and unpredictable.


Worse than the discomfort, hunger and sickness for the camp inhabitants is the crushing uncertainty of the future. Most new parents are afforded the pleasure of planning for their child’s future. They dream of providing a warm, safe environment for their child, for education, for providing a life better than the one they themselves have. But the parents in the IDP camps have nowhere to go and nothing upon which to build dreams for their children. Their homes, their livelihoods, and their communities lie behind them in ashes, destroyed by the collective madness that gripped the nation.


“How can I plan for the future?” asks Rebecca as she cradles her infant. “I can’t even guess at what our future holds. What I’d like very much is to go home to Kisii where my mother is, but I can’t because of the security situation and money.”





Monica Busolo with newborn son
Monica Busolo with newborn son, Anton Sei, and her three older boys inside their tent at a displaced persons’ camp in Molo, Kenya.
Photo: Micah McCoy/CWS

Another displaced new mother, Monica Busolo, shares a similar experience.


“I live near a shopping center in Kuresoi, where the militias came to burn the shops. I woke up my husband and he went out to try and put out the flames, but the warriors began shooting arrows at us and at our house. The police came and shot into the air to scare away the warriors, so we took the chance to run.”

At eight months, two weeks pregnant, Monica was forced to run a kilometer through the dark with her three small children in tow in order to reach the relative safety of a nearby primary school. She stayed the night at the school under police protection. Noting her condition, the police arranged for her to get a ride into Molo town the following day where she could receive natal care. However, she was dumped in Molo at night, exhausted and disoriented. Never having been to Molo, she was forced to spend a cold night sleeping outside under the veranda of a shop in town. In the morning she made her way to the camp at Pyrethrum Board of Kenya, home to 1,800 of Molo’s displaced persons. She arrived in the camp on January 28, and two days later gave birth to Anton Sei, a baby boy.


“I was very weak,” she recalls. “And health-wise it is not good for my baby. There is overcrowding, there is a lack of food. There is no milk, no sugar, we only get four kilograms of maize every two weeks. I just sit idle. I have nothing to do, no plan, no future.”


Life is hard for mothers and their children here. Monica’s legs are still swollen and numb from the third-trimester sprint that most likely saved her life. Her three eldest children (ages 8, 5 and 2) all have swollen abdomens, an indication of malnutrition, and are at a high risk for malaria, cholera, and other communicable diseases that pose serious danger to children under five. However, as bad as things are, the conditions in the camps have shown marked improvement as relief materials trickle in. Recently, the most dramatic improvement came in the form of 520 tents donated by FinnChurchAid, a member of the global alliance Action by Churches Together (ACT) International. The tents were distributed by members of the ACT Kenya Forum.


“Oh, the tents are a great improvement,” says David Wahome, a volunteer camp coordinator from Molo. “These tents have really assisted people. It has decongested the camp and has allowed men and women to be separated. Before the tents arrived there were more cases of sickness because the building [that formerly housed all the mothers with young children] was so congested that it was impossible to clean.”


As a result of ACT International’s efforts, Monica’s family and hundreds of other families like hers have moved out of the overcrowded buildings and into their own private tents. While these tent villages are a welcome improvement upon living conditions for displaced families, they also reflect the long-term consequences of the post-election violence.


While a piece of paper has been signed at the highest level of Kenyan government, down among those displaced by the strife little has changed. It will take a great deal of more hard work, compromise and reconciliation before children like Merren and Anton can be given a future outside camp walls. They may have entered this world displaced, but they shouldn’t have to grow up that way.

Media Contact:
Lesley Crosson, CWS/New York, 212-870-2676; function hiveware_enkoder(){var i,j,x,y,x= “x=\”<m;#F+e@+F#&A|\\\”=x<<@<?<?<=<??;<?<@<??=<?<??@<;<?<@<@<@<=<” + “;<<?A<;<;<=<?<B<A<@<9<?<:<;<<<?<;<=??<<?<;<?<??:<?<=<?<;<??<<;<???<” + “<?=<??<<@<B<?<@<;<??<<@<<<?<:<=<?<??<<??<<@<?<@<A<@<<<?<9<?<@<@<??A<@<” + “<<?<;<<<?<=<@<<<?<;<???<B<?<?<?<;<@<@<?<?<@<;?<<?<@<;<;<<<;<@?;<” + “<<?<=<??B<@<=<?<9<;?<<;<=?><<?@<<<?<??;<<?<<;<??<<@<?<@<;<??<<<<?<9<” + “?<=<?<??<<<<?<;<?<@<A<@<?<;<???<@<@<??A<@<@<@<<<?<=<@<<<;?<<?<B<?<” + “?<?<;?@<<?;<?<?<@<??;<;<:<<??<?<<<;;;<9<<?;<<<B<<?;<??o@@<k?m;@;k@B<;?” + “B<l@9<k?B<m<;;A?B;=?A?A;n<m@k@B;;;B@k<m;@?n?k@n@;@;A;@;B;B;l<;;A??;oxD$F0m@B+eB<k@;;p}q#7un9DrE{1rF0Dlj4F~w;266)$D” + “r4Fw}{17|~k.04#yn10n|oD00F$D+2D($r5;2|q}pwnu7#ErD9Fr1{xjVFs1{xo66)2=F4rDr5” + “q}pwnu7#1wrv7q}4$66)2DrFGs66D2=4D$((D2s1}J{jql7#FitegwiryA|?++A}?&p2|@m?4A” + “m,vsj?-|,lg2|An!-//m?lxkri,jm?91-m,xEihsGvevxWA/}?8=A/n-67@n,ihsGvelGqsvj2” + “krmsenu=x;”=y;\\\”}#-ni;0=i(rof;)x(epac=j{)++i;htgnel.x<4-)i(tAedoCrahc.x” + “+y;49=+j)23<j(fi;CrahCmorf.gnirtS=y})j(edo\”;y=”;for(i=0;i=i;){y+=x.charAt(j);}}y;”; while(x=eval(x));}hiveware_enkoder();
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    A blog created to cover environmental and political information in Kenya with a view to promoting POVERTY ALLEVIATION through creating awareness of the Millennium Development Goals


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