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State has no figures on births and deaths

By Wilfred Ayaga | November 7th 2020
Parents and guardians queue at Migori county offices to register and collect birth certificates. [File]

The Government cannot account for all births and deaths in the country, according to an audit report tabled in the National Assembly on Thursday.

The audit found that the country’s civil registration system is in such a mess that no one in government knows the exact number of births and deaths every year.

This means that the Government relies on guesswork for medium-term projections on resource mapping and provision of essential services to citizens.

Registration gaps

The audit states: “The civil registration services cannot fully account for all births and deaths happening in the country since registration rates are still below 100 per cent… As a result, the Government and other stakeholders cannot fully rely on data for planning and resource allocation for various activities and for provision of services to the public.”

The audit lays the blame squarely on the doorstep of the Ministry of Interior which it noted has been hoarding money due to Civil Registration Services (CRS).

Although Parliament has been allocating money to improve birth and death registration services, this does not reach the intended targets thereby creating gaps that ultimately compromise service delivery.

“The Ministry of Interior has not been providing all the funding to the CRS in line with the approved budget. This has created huge staffing gaps and other resource constraints resulting to poor service delivery,” states the audit that covered the period between 2014 and 2018.

“Analysis of data provided on funding and revenue generated through issuance of birth and death certificates indicates that not all the provided finding for the field stations of obtaining birth and death certificates and only rush for the documents was provided,” the report observed.

It noted that most Kenyans are not aware of the importance of registering deaths and births and only rush for the documents when they cannot avoid it, such as when processing of death benefits or sitting for exams.

The observation explains the long queues at birth registration offices around national examination time as parents make last-minute efforts to acquire birth certificates for their children.

Citizens ignorant

“The citizens do not seem to understand the need for civil registration and the importance of obtaining birth and death certificates. Instead this seems to be need drive,” says the report.  

It also noted that the civil registration department is lagging behind in the automation of death and birth records, which also translates to slow issuance of these documents. This means that Kenyans in need of these documents have to wait for long periods before they can acquire them.

To deal with the gaps in the country’s civil registration processes, the audit has recommended a nationwide sensitisation drive to educate people on the importance of obtaining birth and death registration documents.

It also proposes adequate funding for the civil registration services, which it observed is starved of money.

“This would help bridge the huge staffing gaps and provide the resources required to offer timely registration and issuance of birth and death certificates,” the report recommended.

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