Kenya MPs push back on plan to drop use of biometric system in national census

Some members of the Parliament of Kenya have spoken out about the government’s decision to not involve the use of biometric registration kits in the August national population census warning that any attempt to have the census conducted manually will lead to a boycott by central Kenya leaders, Standard Media reports.

Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua said the decision was unacceptable. “The bare minimum for the census to be carried out in a credible and reliable manner is through the biometric system. As central Kenya people, we shall boycott the census if there are any attempts to carry out the exercise manually.”

Gachagua noted that his region had been short-changed in the previous census exercises based on the statistics collected in the 2009 exercise and the voter registration numbers. “In the last census, Turkana County recorded a population of 815,000 yet during the biometric registration of voters, only 191,000 were registered. Based on these census numbers, they now receive Sh10.7 billion (US$106.8M) allocation.”

The MP explained that the census figures were vital for fair resource allocation.

Tetu MP James Gichuhi is also supporting use of the biometric system saying any attempt to carry out a manual census would be resisted by local leaders. “The numbers used in the allocation of resources since 2009 were inaccurate and it would be unfortunate if we continue to make the same mistakes yet we have the biometric machines.”

Last month IDEMIA executives defended the performance of its biometric voting technology in an appearance before the National Assembly of Kenya’s Public Accounts Committee.

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