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Storm erupts over August census plan

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Initially, the revenue sharing formula for counties was pegged on population and poverty levels, but the formula was revised this year amidst outcry from marginalized counties, where revenue is shared depending on the economic strength of the counties and roles assigned to them by the Constitution.

This means more resources will be taken to regions with a high level of returns and responsibilities.

The political battles were kicked off late last year when leaders from

Central Kenya called for fair distribution of national resources based on population density and economic productivity.

The clamour by Central leaders has sent jitters to their Northeastern peers who have raised concerns that the push by the leaders is aimed at influencing the outcome of the census to their disadvantage.

“We demand fair distribution of devolved funds based on population density and economic productivity.

We call for fair measures to deliver a credible census devoid of mischief of ukora census of 2009,” Wachira Kiago, the Kikuyu Council of Elders national chairman, said on December 31, 2018, in sentiments that were echoed by a section of political leaders.

“We find this formula to be very unfair to the ASAL counties. The parameters are very subjective and discriminatory,” governor Roba said during the Frontier Counties Development Council and Pastoralists Parliamentary Group Leadership press briefing yesterday.

The leaders expressed fury at what they termed militarisation of the census aimed at smoothing their numbers. They faulted the moving of

Kenya National Bureau of Statistics to Interior ministry.

“We are not opposed to the census but demand a transparency and the inclusion of international observers to ensure a credible census,” they said in a statement.“KNBS should be domesticated under the Planning ministry.”

“Everybody should be counted.Once results are out, we do not want to hear stories that we smoothen; it does not conform to the pattern and other nonsense shared in the past,”they said, explaining that in 2009 they were not counted and pointed a finger at political interference.

The Northern leaders accused their Central Kenya counterparts of using constitutional institutions and government agencies to drive decisions aimed at marginalising arid and semi-arid counties.

Read: Arid, semi-arid counties claim plot to deny them cash through census

This year’s census is the most expensive and biggest, raising eyebrows over the billions the agency wants to spend in the exercise lasting a week.

Already Sh18.5 billion has been earmarked for the census to be conducted by about 200,000 staff over seven days. According to KNBS director general Zachary Mwangi,most of the expenses will go towards paying personnel as well as acquiring more than 160,000 digital devices.

Despite the growing political contestations over the exercise and delayed procurement of the material,Mwangi said they were on course.

“Everything in the preparatory stage is on course and the rest of the plans,” he said.

He said they are in a pre-enumeration stage of the census with cartographic mapping of villages in all the 47 counties, with piloting in 12 counties already done.

The procurement of equipment,he said, will be completed by Mayand by July hiring and training of personnel should have been concluded.

The next stage will be the real enumeration, or the census night,which is the actual counting in the month of August.

“The last stage will be post-enumeration where we compile the data, analyse then release the result,”Mwangi said.

The previous census was manual- where data was captured through paper questionnaires, scanned and then sent for tabulation. This year’s Sh18.5 billion exercise will use mobile technology.

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“This will be a paperless exercise. Although we won’t use biometric data capture, we will have mobile devices that will be used for data collection. The captured data will be transmitted to a central server for analysing and processing,” Mwangi said.

The digital process will help eliminate errors associated with physical human data entry from questionnaires into the computers,he said.

“The census is good for getting the accurate numbers and good quality data is key in enabling sound planning for better appropriation of resources to address the needs of fellow countrymen,” he added.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is expected to use the same data to review or vary constituencies.

The law requires delimitation of boundaries to be conducted a year before the General Election.

The Constitution caps the number of constituencies at 290, butthe IEBC can review to either alter the name or boundaries of existing constituencies.

It is will be the second review since 2010 by the Andrew Ligale-led Boundaries Review Commission.

Some constituencies without adequate population are likely to be eliminated.

“In the second review, there is no protection at all. It at means they will cease to exist,” a senior offi cialat the electoral agency told the Star.

The constituencies protected during the last boundary revieware Lamu East, Lamu West, Mvita, Mwatate, Wundanyi, Voi, Bura, Galole, Isiolo South, Kilome, Laisamis, North Horr, Saku, Siakago (now Mbeere North), Ndaragwa, Tetu, Murkurweini, Othaya and Kangema.

Others are Mathioya, Samburu East, Marakwet East, Keiyo North, Mogotio, Vihiga and Budalang’i.

During the last review, the population threshold was set at 133,000 people, a figure that is likely to go up given the expected increase in population.

Read: Mudavadi asks state to disclose census plans for credibility

For a constituency to maintain its status, the population must be greater or lesser than the quota by 40 per cent for cities and sparsely populated areas and 30 per cent for other areas. The quota is arrived at after dividing the total population bythe 290 constituencies. Parliamentary Investment Committee chairman Abdulswamad Nassir, whose Mvita constituency is staring at possible scrapping, told the Star yesterday that pegging the review on night will hurt his constituency which has the highest daytime population.

He explained that majority of people spend their daytime in Mvita and go to neighbouring constituencies during the night because houses are affordable.

“Mvita is in the heart of Mombasa.Anyone living in Likoni, Changamwe all work in Mvita and goes back at night. Census is done at night and this makes it a bit tricky,” Nassir said on the phone.

“We are going to ask all these people to even spend with colleagues and friends because they have to be counted. We are going to lose the constituency itself yet they need the services during the day.”

Other than political interests invoked by fears informing scrapping of some constituencies, the census is faced by squabbles between state agencies and interests around tenders.

Additionally, failure to align the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Act ( 2006 ) to the 2010 Constitution stands on the way of a successful census.

“There is no need to worry. The entire processes will be credible and free from manipulation or interference,”Mwangi said.

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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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