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

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network 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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs