Nairobi Demography, Constituencies Map is Launched

By Odhiambo Orlale, The Nation (Nairobi), 19 July 2002

An electoral guide map showing the country's 210 constituencies and the pattern of voting in the last elections has been launched.

The Kenya Democracy Map released yesterday, also lists 47 registered political parties as at June 3 and their national chiefs, civic wards, the number of registered voters, the population of every constituency and the number of women who contested the 1997 General Election.

The top 10 on the parties' list are Kanu, which is headed by President Moi, Democratic Party of Mr Mwai Kibaki, Ford Kenya (Mr Michael Wamalwa), Social Democratic Party (Mr Justus Nyang'aya) and Safina (Mr Farah Mohamed).

Others are Ford People of Mr Kimani wa Nyoike, Kenya Social Congress (Mr George Anyona), Shirikisho (Mr Suleiman Shakombo), Ford Asili (Mr George Nthenge) and Kenya National Democratic Alliance (Mr Joram Kariuki).

Though Mr John Harun Mwau has been quoted as saying that he had dissolved his Party of Independent Candidates of Kenya and joined Kanu, the authors of the map, Nairobi Map Service, have listed the party as number 11. Mr G.N. Musyimi is its chairman.

At the bottom of the list of 47 are United People's Party, which is led by Mr Joe Kariuki, National Progressive Party (Mr Ndambuki Muli) and Kenya Citizen Congress (Mr Eustace Mutunga). The low keyed launch at a Nairobi hotel was attended by Mr Gideon Maina, a director of the firm, and Ford-A's Wanguhu Ng'ang'a.

Using bar graphs, the authors have shown how all the 15 presidential candidates fared in the '97 polls. President Moi led with 2.4 million votes, followed by Mr Kibaki, Mr Raila Odinga then with the NDP, Mr Wamalwa and Mrs Charity Ngilu, then on an SDP ticket.

Mr James Mwaura Wamahiu, the firm's marketing manager, said the map was targeting voters, political parties and the general public. Kenyans need no longer vote blindly because of lack of information, he said.

The enormous resource of data that this country enjoys should reach the people and the easiest and simplest form of disseminating this information is by use of maps, said Mr Wamahiu.

Mr Wamahiu, who is cartographer by profession, noted that information displayed on a plane surface was easier to read and understand than it would for the same information in the form of a booklet.

Turning to the government, the official challenged civil servants whose job is to collect basic data and information to take advantage of the modern technology so that secondary agents who would like to utilise that same data can acquire it easily and cheaply so that it could be processed and circulated to the public.

On the content of their map, Mr Wamahiu made a passionate plea to voters to study the map and the voting pattern in the 1997 elections and decide whether to enhance or abandon the trend. The map clearly shows how each political party fared in each of the 210 constituencies.

Describing the map as a democratic dossier, the official challenged the public and Members of Parliament to use it to debate on whether there was need to increase the number of constituencies by 100, as proposed by a motion recently passed in Parliament fronted by Mr Ochillo Ayacko (Rongo, Kanu).

The low profile launching ceremony was attended by Mr Gideon Maina, a director of Nairobi Map Services and politician Wanguhu Nganga, of Ford Asili.

The map will be distributed by Book Distributors Kenya limited and will be on sale at Sh500 each.