News / Africa

Kenya Works to Make Birth Registration Easier

Benedetta Kamene, Volunteer Children's Officer, reviews a stack of newly-issued birth certificates at the Kimadzo community-based organization, Kwale, Kenya, July 25, 2012. (VOA/Jill Craig)
Benedetta Kamene, Volunteer Children's Officer, reviews a stack of newly-issued birth certificates at the Kimadzo community-based organization, Kwale, Kenya, July 25, 2012. (VOA/Jill Craig)
Jill Craig
NAIROBI — The United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, says that worldwide, about 51,000,000 children per year are not registered at birth. A birth certificate provides state recognition of that child's existence. Without it, the child is often denied education and health benefits, as well as basic human rights. In Kenya, PLAN International and the World Health Organization are working with the government to register children by way of mobile phone technology.

Birth registration

PLAN International says only about half of children born in Kenya have birth certificates. Without this document, children cannot register for national exams, which are mandatory for admittance to secondary school and university. And if orphaned, they can be denied rightful property inheritance.
 
Salim Mvurya is the Program Unit Manager for PLAN Kenya, in the coastal district of Kwale. He says birth registration is critical for children. “It is important to have birth certificates for child protection reasons, education reasons, inheritance reasons, and also those who travel abroad, you know, for different reasons, they also have to have [a] birth certificate for them to get a passport,” he said.

Registration process

But registering for a birth certificate is not so simple, especially in the more remote areas of the country.

Within the first six months of a child’s birth, a community worker and assistant chief start the paper-based process for registering a child. The certificate, costing about 60 cents, must then be retrieved from the district civil registrar’s office.

If the child is registered after six months of birth, the process becomes more tedious. The parent must travel to see the assistant chief, the area chief, the district officer, the district commissioner, and finally, the district civil registrar. At each one of these stops, forms must be filled out. The cost of this late registration certificate is about $1.80.

But it is the cost of transport and time away from work that is the real problem. Benedetta Kamene is a volunteer children’s officer for the community-based organization Kimadzo, in Kwale. She says that the cost of round-trip transport from her office to the district registrar, 100 kilometers away, is about $11.90 -- a steep sum for most residents of this area.

“Then you’ll have to go there, and pay for that certificate, then come back. So you’ll find that, they are not all that expensive, but the transport makes them sound quite expensive,” Kamene stated.

Streamlining registration

To help alleviate these problems, PLAN International and the World Health Organization developed pilot programs in Kwale and Naivasha to use mobile phone technology to register babies.

After the birth, community workers and assistant chiefs work together to collect information on their mobile phones, and send it to the appropriate officials.

Ali Mwatsahu is a community worker with Kimadzo. He says that the mobile phone registration process made his job much easier. “With this mobile thing, the only thing that you do, after you have got all that information, you just send it directly to Kwale, you don’t have to travel, and you can send as many forms as possible within a short time," Mwatsahu added. "So when the certificates are ready there, they contact us, we go and pick the certificates. The parents do not have to travel to and fro, all the time, looking for something which is not ready.”

Daniel Muga is a Chief Registrar at the Kenya Department of Civil Registration. He says the Kenyan government is interested in utilizing the strong mobile capabilities within the country to streamline this process.

“Mobile use is widespread all the way to the remote parts of the country. In essence, every other person owns a mobile phone, is able to use a mobile phone to run very basic transactions, to communicate. So that becomes a leverage for any process that involves the community,” Muga said.

Mobile civil registration

Muga says he is hopeful that mobile civil registration will soon become fully-implemented throughout the country, which can then be incorporated into the civil registration system. He admits that one hold-up has been the fact that although a computerized civil registration system is now in place, the records are not digitized. He says this is about to change.

“In other words, within a period, of say, nine months, we expect that all our records which number in the range of 35 million records, that all these records will actually be converted," Muga said. "And will be stored in a digitized format.”

PLAN issued between 400 and 500 birth certificates last year in Kwale through the mobile phone project. The WHO project in Naivasha is still in its beginning stages.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Patriot556 from: NW
August 16, 2012 6:16 PM
This new upgrade in birth registration process must be coming from the fact that they cannot claim an american president as a national hero in Kenya. Seems that the paperwork is all screwed up, so they needed an upgrade so the next time they have a national go to america to become president, they can claim him as a hero.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid