The August 2019 census and its effects on resource allocation are among the issues expected to dominate an Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) leaders’ meeting in Garissa this weekend.
Fourteen governors from these regions will be joined by politicians and community leaders in the business, government and academic circles from Garissa, Turkana, Baringo, Samburu, Lamu and Marsabit counties.
Other participants are expected to come from Isiolo, Kajiado, Laikipia, West-Pokot, Tana-River, Wajir and Mandera.
The majority of these counties jointly form the Frontier Counties Development Council (FCDC) economic bloc, which has organised the leaders’ summit alongside the Pastoralists Parliamentary Group.
Although the organisers say the agenda of the meeting will be the counties’ economic future and how to rise from years of neglect and underdevelopment, the census question and lopsided revenue sharing, which have been a perennial source of political disputes, are expected to feature prominently.
Governors from the North Eastern region aligned to FCDC have already faulted the revenue sharing formula proposed by the Commission on Revenue Allocation, terming it discriminatory.
They complained that in the planned 2019 census, which will inform how cash will be shared among the counties, the government has proposed the use of a biometric system, which raised credibility questions in the last general election.
On Sunday, Garissa Governor Ali Korane, who will host the meeting, said it will also focus on peace and cohesion, community land protection in the context of large projects and improvement of the livestock sector.
“All leaders have been welcomed to discuss these critical policies and practices aimed at mainstreaming pastoralists issues into the national agenda. We expect many leaders from these counties and we are going to discuss these issues extensively,” Mr Korane said.
According to the event organisers, there will be a high level plenary on census, referendum and boundaries review. One of the panellists will be Isiolo Woman Rep Rehema Jaldesa, who has disputed the stand by some of her colleagues that counties in North Eastern have inaccurate household numbers as captured in the last census.
Already, Mandera County boss Ali Roba has called for a foolproof census, saying it should be fair to arid and semi arid counties.
“We believe not even half of our population was counted in the last census in 2009. People are making threats that we are counting trees and other things,” he said recently in Nairobi. The census is expected to cost Sh18.5 billion.
The theme of this year’s meeting will be “fostering peace, security and socio-economic development of the pastoralist counties”.
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