An Assistant County Commissioner in Kwale County, Dennis Barasa has underscored the need to intensify public awareness on the vital role statistics played as an indispensable tool of governance.
Baraza said that just as politicians were passionate about statistics, every citizen, including civil servants should be keen on data because of its importance in national planning, development and growth.
“It is unfortunate that statistics are generally taken for granted and their importance has been left to politicians in the country,” said Barasa when chairing a meeting of the county committee that is organizing celebrations to mark this year’s African Statistics Day on November 18.
As the country approaches next year’s national population census, and the subsequent review of electoral boundaries, a heated debate is unfolding with politicians at the heart of it all.
Some politicians have vowed to block plans to scrap some of their constituencies that do not meet the population threshold required by the law.
All these involve statistics which are a key determinant of whether one would gain, retain or lose political power hence the obsession with ethnic arithmetic among politicians.
Barasa said civil servants should have deeper interest in statistics to optimize their operations for effective provision of public services.
The County Statistics Officer, Alex Munga said the statistics day was initiated by the Joint African Conference for Planners, Statisticians to raise public awareness about the importance of statistics in all aspects of socio-economic and environmental life.
“In our day to day work as statisticians, we interact so much with the public; be it at individual, household or corporate level, hence the need for us to be clearly understood, including what we do and why we do it,” said Munga.
He said they usually encountered challenges in the field such as being misunderstood by members of the public noting that sometimes they were mistaken for being staff of the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) thus the need to educate the public on what they do and the role of statistics in the society.
“All of us use statistics daily in one way or the other, even at household level because for instance, one has to plan for their family by using numbers which amounts to statistics,” he added.
The theme of this year’s celebrations is “High quality official statistics to ensure transparency, good governance and inclusive development”.
Munga urged locals to support operations carried out by statistics teams to facilitate data collection which is key to economic planning.
“Some potential data producers view as with suspicion and as intrusive but they should not since we mean well,” he said with an assurance of strict confidentiality of information gathered.
Kwale was among 12 counties selected to pilot tools developed for the main Kenya Population and Household Census on the night of August 24-25, 2019. The pilot was in August this year in Diani and Funzi locations Msambweni Sub-county.
By James Muchai