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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs